Day after quake, fear in Jammu and Kashmir

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Jammu/Srinagar, Oct 27: Communication networks were restored in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, a day after a major earthquake struck the state and claimed at least three lives. Fear of aftershocks still lurked in the state, officials said.

"A 16-year-old boy was killed and his father was injured when the two fell several feet down on the steep hillside in Reasi district because of the earthquake," a senior state government officer said in Jammu city on Tuesday.

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Two women, one in north Kashmir's Baramulla district and the other in south Kashmir's Anantnag district, died due to heart failure. They were shocked by the strong quake that rocked the Kashmir Valley, the official added.

All communications including mobile telephone services, broadband and mobile Internet services were snapped immediately after the earthquake that measured 7.5 on the Richter scale.

Hundreds of people were stranded on roads, inside vehicles and other places, and created panic in Srinagar city.

Hundreds of government and private buildings, including offices, schools, residential buildings and shopping complexes in Jammu and Srinagar cities, have developed cracks.

A senior civil engineer said the exact extent of damage to such structures cannot be immediately assessed.

"The cracks appearing in such structures could be superficial, which means affecting the outer plaster layer only or deep down affecting the superstructure proper," the engineer said.

What has been worrying the locals in Jammu region and the Kashmir Valley is the probability of aftershocks.

"Structures rattled by earthquake are always unsafe because aftershocks can raze them," an expert said.

Srinagar city's only fly-over also developed cracks and traffic on it was disallowed for several hours. It resumed after engineers inspected the damage.

A multi-storeyed block of an official building adjacent to the fly-over, housing headquarters of the state crime branch and some other offices, also developed cracks.

The building was inaugurated only a year back by the then chief minister Omar Abdullah.

Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, who was presiding over a cultural function in Tagore Hall in Srinagar, was escorted to safety by his Special Security Group (SSG) guards while other dignitaries and senior officials ran out of the jampacked hall, ignoring that they were leaving the chief minister behind.

There was chaos inside the civil secretariat, the seat of governance in the state.

A senior bureaucrat - otherwise known for his cool administrative behaviour - was seen struggling to gather his breath as he ran down several floors of the multi-storeyed secretariat building, not even glancing back till he reached the main gate.

All official functions and meetings scheduled in the afternoon in Jammu and Srinagar cities and other district headquarters were canceled without any official word on their rescheduling.

According to the seismologists, the valley is situated in seismic zone 5 which makes it highly to vulnerable earthquakes.

IANS

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