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Earthquake takes toll of more than 50 people in Surat :

Surat, Jan. 26 : More than 50 people have been reported killed in the city due to heavy earthquake which hit the State at 8:46 am today morning. The quake which registered 7.9 on the Ritcher scale was the biggest to hit Gujarat after the earthquake of 1950.The total number of casualties in Surat, Navsari and Bilimora on account of the earthquake which rocked the entire state, has crossed the 50 mark. Due to the tremors, 6 floors of the Hare Krishna Complex situated on the Bhatar Road, while on the Ved Road, 15 workers were killed when the earthquake created pandemonium amongst the mill workers. More than 50 workers received injuries. The earthquake which rocked the whole of Western India, forced the foreclosure of the Republic Day celebrations which were just getting underway at the Police Parade Grounds. The District Collector, Smt. Sangita Singh immediately ordered all the officials to report for duty. The SMC administration also ordered all its employees to get to their seats on a war footing. Initially, due to the light tremors at the start, the people of the city took the quake lightly. But when the second tremor came, it was a huge one, registering 6.9 on the Ritcher scale, it really scared the citizens out of their wits. High rise buildings in the city started shaking as though they were made of cards. People started running on to the roads and also informed others to leave the buildings. The effect of the elongated tremors created terror amongst the people. People all around the city including areas of Adajan, Rander, Ghod Dod Road, Parle Point, Bhatar, the main city areas, Ved Road, Katargam, Kapodara, Varachha, Ring Road ran out on to the roads and open areas in order to get safely away from possible building collapses. An entire portion of the Hare Krishna Complex building, situated opposite the Uma Bhavan on the Bhatar Road collapsed when the earthquake hit. More than 8 people have already been found dead as per the last reports and fears of several others being killed are being expressed. About 29 flats of the tower like building were heavily damaged due to the tremors. In the morning itself, bodies of 8 residents of the building had been brought in to the P.M. room of the New civil Hospital for post mortem. 18 bodies at the Ashakt Ashram Hospital and 3 at the Maskati Hospital were brought in from other areas of the city. Incidents of buildings falling down or getting damaged were reported from the Navapura Golwad, Ved Road Pandol, Kapodara Sheetal Diamonds and several other areas. Three people were injured in the Ashanagar Society at Umarwada, while a fire broke out in he Vishal nagar society. The fire fighters of the SMC Fire Brigade started the dismantling of the debris of the Hare Krishna apartment on the Bhatar Road on a war footing. All the members of the families residing in flat nos. 601 and 607 were buried under the debris. Prior to today's earthquake, the city felt tremors in '93, '96 and 1997. Though, during those tremors, the city had not suffered any damages or casualties.

Several high rises of the city "cracked" due to the earthquake :

Surat, Jan. 26: Many buildings of the city collapsed in today's earthquake, some walls collapsed and many structures witnessed cracks due to the tremors. The earthquake took toll of lots of lives and a number of casualties occurred in the entire city.The Bhatar Road of the city was the worst affected of all the area. The entire left wing of the Hare Krishna Complex, consisting of 10 storeys and 29 flats collapsed. 4 persons of an Agrawal family residing in the complex were crushed to death in the debris. Even while this is being written, the fire brigade staff is fighting to clear the debris and rescue any people who might be trapped underneath. It is feared that 10 to 15 bodies are still to recovered. Cracks appeared in several other high rise buildings of the Bhatar Road area. Huge cracks appeared in the Nandeshwari Preet and Siddha Chakra Appts. of the Parle Point area. The pillars of many buildings of this area were seemed to have cracked on account of the earthquake. The high rises in the Athwa Gate area also witnessed large cracks. Residents of these areas were seen flocking to the nearby open areas of Piplod and even upto Dumas. The walls of many buildings in the Ved Road area collapsed in today's quake, while several others were cracked. The diamond workers of the factories in this area tried to rush out the units due to which nearly 15 workers were stamped to death by their own colleagues. 2 women died in the Navapur Golwad area as a wall fell on them. Most of the structures in this area were built years ago, which witnessed cracks due to today's earthquake. Nearly 8-10 cars were damaged in this area when chunks of the broken structures fell on them. The old building of the New Civil Hospital was found to have acquired lots of cracks and both of its lifts were ready to fall down. Most of the wards of the hospital were closed down and the patients were transferred to the OPD nos. 11, 12, 13 & 14. Jyoti block of the hospital campus was found with about 10 mts. of its corner wall missing, which had collapsed in the earthquake. Many structure in the Vada Chauta, Bhaishaji Pole, Soni Falia, Gopipura, Mahidharpura, Haripura collapsed while cracks appeared in several other buildings and bungalows

Scenes witnessed around the city as the quake struck :

Surat, Jan. 26 : Babubhai Banarsi was taking a bath in the morning. He had just lathered his hair when he felt the whole bathroom shaking as though it were made of jelly-o. He rushed out with just a towel around his waist and shampoo suds in his hair. This was one of several such scenes witnessed in the city today morning as the biggest earthquake in 50 years struck today morning. The earthquake which hit at 8:46 today morning, brought people running out of their houses in various conditions of dishevelment. Some of them ran out while bathing, while some others were rudely jerked out of a deep slumber and had to rush out with only the minimal of clothes. In the Satyanagar society of Udhna, the more than 2000 residents of the colony gathered in the common plot of the society as soon of the tremors started. Shouts of people calling their neighbours out of the buildings and alerting them about the quake could be heard for several minutes. People were seen milling about in lungis, night dresses and several other assortment of clothes. Many of them had soap in their eyes and on their bodies. In the New Civil Hospital Campus, a resident doctor, residing on the first floor of one of the quarter buildings, ran upto the third floor as soon as he felt the tremors. When he reached up there, he realised his foolishness, and out of sheer terror, he jumped straight out of the third floor. He landed safely, but only with both his legs fractured. Almost similar was the case of Mr. Mallah, also of the Civil Campus, who jumped out of his first floor balcony and fractured his leg. Mr. Mallah already had a deformed left leg and today's high jump broke his other one as well. Mr. Ashwin Yagnik's son, Raj was having a nice sleep on his bed when the earthquake struck. So heavy were the tremors that he fell down from his cot and only then did he know that there was an earthquake and he rushed out of the house. One dear guy, who was all alone at his home, was sleeping stark naked at night. When the quake hit, he, without thinking, ran out of his house in his born time condition. Only when people started gaping at him was his attention drawn to his own nakedness. The poor guy was so ashamed that he rushed back into his house to put on some clothes and try to save some pride. Mr. Sumeet of Satyam Holidays had just returned from Mumbai and was yet to get down from the train. Suddenly people started shouting that the train was departing and everyone who was to get down should do so. Mr. Sumeet literally jumped down from the train only to find himself still shaking. It was then that he learned that the train was not moving, rather it was the ground that was moving. These were just a few of the tragic yet hilarious scenes that the earthquake brought along with it to Surat. Though it might seem a wrong time to be writing such things, they are also as much a part of the tragedy which struck Gujarat today, as were the deaths and damages suffered by almost all the cities of the State. The attempt here is just to provide a ray of light to the people while they are reeling under the mountain of grief.

List of people who died in the earthquake in the city :

1) Geetaben Ashokbhai Rana (age 28), Navapura, Vachli Sheri. 2) Ashokbhai Ranchodbhai Bariya (age 22), Sahjanand Apartment, Hirabaug. 3) Jadavbhai Dasbhai Bharap (age 21), Indira Nagar, Hirabaug, Kapodara. 4) Hanubhai Kalubhai. 5) Kishanbhai Chotubhai Murlidhar, Vijaynagar - 2, Ved Road. 6) Babubhai Kanjibhai Hajudia (age 42) Ambikanagar - 2, Ved Road. 7) Chayaben Jagannath Pader (age 17), 28, Vijaynagar - 2, Ved Road. 8) Ravjibhai Dharamsinhbhai Raval (age 37), Shivchaya Society, Ved Road. 9) Jerambhai Dholabhai (age 45), 13, Sardarnagar, Dabholi Road. 10) Arjun, besides Devratna, Mahidharpura. 11) Rakeshbhai Dahyabhai Shah (age 35), 310, Timaliyawad, Nanpura. 12) Sadulbhai Bhimabhai Prajapati (age 31), Avdhutnagar, Ved Road. 13) Nathabhai Mavjibhai Prajapati (age 45), A-138, Shivchaya, Ved Road. 14) Rasikbhai Vallabhbhai Borasiya (age 20), 263, Ravi Vihar -2, Ved Road. 15) Rameshbhai Hardasbhai (age 22) Chowk Bazaar. 16) Kanjibhai Hajudia, Ved Road. 17) Kiritbhai Dahyabhai, Ved Road. 18) Chandubhan Gupta, Ved Road. 19) Popatbhai Chotubhai, Ved Road. 20) Bhupatbhai Chotubhai, Ved Road. 21) Ishwarbhai Becharbhai Vaghri (age 25), Nana Varachha. 22) Laxmidevi Khatri (age 80), Hare Krishna, Bhatar Road. 23) Harsh Agrawal (age 4), Hare Krishna Apartment, Bhatar Road. 24) Chanchal Agrawal (age 5), Hare Krishna Apartment, Bhatar Road. 25) Shyamlal Agrawal (age 30), Harekrishna Apartment, Bhatar Road. 26) Sunny Rameshbhai (age 10), Ananddeep Apt., Rander. 27) Paliben Ratilal (age 35), Salabatpura. 28) Harishbhai Vajubhai (age 22), Ved Road. 29) Arjun Pratapji Raval (age 24), 176, Gayatri Nagar, Katargam. 30) Udaybhan Shyamnarayan (age 22), Vijaynagar - 2, Ved Road. 31) Rameshbhai Joitaram Prajapati (age 25), Katargam. 32) Pradeepkumar Ram Lakhan (age 22), Ved Road Pandol. 33) Pragjibhai Thajkorsinhbhai Patel (age 45), 163, Kubernagar - 2. 34) Kanubhai Kalubhai Parmar (age 29), Katargam. 35) Snehlata Baldevbhai Bhariya (age 72), Umra. 36) Kamlesh Goverdhan (age 16), Umra. 37) Samtosh Kalu (age 15), Kapodara

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Quake's epicentre is near Bhuj, Gujarat

A Correspondent and Agencies

The country's tryst with destiny on Republic Day got off on a wrong note, with many regions - from Delhi in the north, to Bhuj and Bombay in the west to Madras and Pondicherry in the south -- experiencing tremors.

R R Kelkar, director general, of Indian Meteorological Department, said, "The earthquake measured 6.9 on the Richter Scale and it was 20 km north-east of Bhuj. Tremors were also felt in Delhi and Bombay on a minor scale when compared to Bhuj."

The epicenter of the quake was located at 23.6 latitude and 69.8 longitude, the IMD said.

Data recorded from the earthquake have been sent to their headquarters at Delhi to work out the epicenter and exact magnitude, IMD sources added.

Gujarat experienced one of its worst days, with reports of tremors coming in almost from all over the state. According to Balubhai Shah, a resident of Jamalpur area of Ahmedabad, three people were killed and one person was injured in the earthquake. He also said a Jain Temple at Lavanya area was damaged completely. However, the police did not confirm this news. Most phone lines are dead in the capital city, leading to a communication breakdown.

An anxious population jammed the telephone lines, calling up relatives and friends. Fortunately, there have been no reports of casualties from anywhere.

The earthquake also shook Delhi and neighbouring areas an hour before the start of the Republic Day celebrations. But details of the epicentre and intensity were not immediately available on account of the holiday.

In Bombay, people ran on to the streets as buildings shuddered, lifts trembled, window panes rattled, and beds shook. FM Radio host, Vinod Advani, who was at the AIR studio at the time of the quake, fielded many phone calls from listeners anxious to know more about the quake.

When reports last came in, the police and the fire brigade were still assessing reports of casualties and damage. One report said most of the landlines in Gujarat were down following the quake. Reports of powerful jolts were also received from Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Dhoraji, Jamjodhpur and Gondal.

In south India, an earthquake of mild intensity was recorded in several areas in Madras and Pondicherry.

The tremor, experienced at about 0900 hrs, lasted for a couple of seconds and led to a minor disruption of Republic Day celebrations in Pondicherry, with people trying to leave the stadium.

The Madras police said residents of the bustling T Nagar area ran out of their houses, feeling the floor rattle.

In Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal and its neighbouring areas experienced mild tremors this morning.

No loss of life or property has been reported from anywhere, authorities said.

Reports of quake shocks have also come from Gwalior, Ujjain, Jabalpur, Hoshangabad, Indore and many other parts of the state.