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Rude shock of a cold winter morning

SHILLONG: On Monday morning at around 4.35 am Shillongites were rudely awakened from their slumber by a severe jolt that lasted for at least 30 seconds. The earthquake measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale saw panic stricken people running out of their homes as their houses shook and things went flying off their shelves. However, no causalities were reported.
The prolonged tremor besides rattling the buildings, window panes of houses and  household materials  also caused cracks in many buildings including the floor of Meghalaya DGP’s office, NEIGRIHMS, High Court Guest House and Sadar police station among others.
The earthquake coming four days after the New Year was ushered in managed to shock the city residents on a cold winter morning.
Panic stricken parents were seen carrying their kids and  running out of their homes during the earthquake. The elderly and kids, especially those residing in multi-storied buildings panicked the most as family members tried to get them out of their homes.
Kalpana Modi a resident of Shillong, sharing her experience said, “It was so scary as the whole house started moving and picture frames and showpieces fell from the showcase. There were also a few cracks on the walls and the ceiling. Thank God nothing happened to any of us.”
Toki Blah said, “What is most horrifying is that in two storied houses there is a possibility that the staircase might collapse while people are running down with their little babies. Panic reaction is what causes injuries and now there are disaster management experts who are saying that we should not be hiding under tables or beds because if the house collapses the impact would be on the beds and tables.” We really need to know the best safety measures and to be prepared. All along we have been expecting the Big One. Today when it happened we all panicked and were unprepared! I also want to ask the politicians this question: “Should they be squabbling over the building bye-laws when our collective safety rests on enforcing stringent building laws?”
A Nongrum a resident of Nongthymmai said, “Fortunately the High Court has sealed those buildings that have violated the building bye laws. Who knows what will happen if another big jolt happens and buildings collapse? We are fortunate that what happened in Manipur did not happen here but we cannot be sure that another earthquake will not strike us again.”
The MeECL disconnected electricity in many localities to avoid any untoward incident following the earthquake. Commenting on this alacrity of the MeECL several citizens speaking to this correspondent said, “We salute the linesmen and other workers who had the presence of mind to switch off the electricity. This is crucial during an earthquake,” they observed.
The only topic of conversation today was the earthquake and whether their will be aftershocks. Seismologist believe that the next 48 hours can be crucial for there could be repeat occurrences.
Deputy Commissioner, East Khasi Hills P.S. Dkhar, cautioned that since Meghalaya falls in Zone 5 of the high seismic zone, people should be alert and  keep their houses safe and to be ready in case any natural calamity occurs.
With regard to disaster management, Dkhar informed, “As for now since schools are closed so officers from the disaster management department can coordinate with localities since disaster management drills are  an ongoing process. In fact the Home Guards, Police, Fire Service et al are working in coordination and we will continue the drill once the schools reopen.”
Ronnie Wahlang, Additional District Magistrate, said that there were non-structural cracks in some buildings which may not pose serious danger as reported by some PWD officials who inspected the site.
He further said, “Hairline cracks were visible in the High Court Guest House while there is no loss of property or loss of life reported.”
Meanwhile, the Eastern Air command was tasked by Air Head Quarters to airlift the NDRF team from Guwahati.
Following the earthquake, one Avro aircraft transported 14 NDRF personnel and 2 tons of load while an AN 32 aircraft carried 49 NDRF personnel along with 1.3 tons of load.
Later the AN 32 undertook another sortie from Guwahati to convey a team of 33 NDRF personnel to Silchar.

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