A 6.3-magnitude earthquake shook the remote mountain nation of Bhutan today, killing at least seven people when their houses collapsed and damaging buildings across the region, officials said.
The afternoon earthquake was initially reported in Gauhati, the capital of India’s north-eastern Assam state, but it was centred in a little-populated eastern region of the tiny nation.
Much of Bhutan is sparsely populated, reachable only by walking paths and without electricity or telephones.
“We’re trying to piece together information to assess the damage,” Ugyen Tenzing, the country’s director of disaster management said from Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital.
He said at least seven people were killed when their houses collapsed in the eastern districts of Munggar and Trashigang, and rescuers were searching for survivors under the debris of other buildings. He had no further details.
Most buildings in that region are small farmhouses made of mud and stone with tin roofs.
The US Geological Survey reported the quake’s magnitude as 6.3 and said it was centred about 80 miles north of Gauhati and 115 miles east of Thimphu at a depth of 4.5 miles.
The region has been hit by major earthquakes in the past, including in 1950 and 1897. Assam has been shaken by a series of small quakes in recent weeks.
The quake briefly rocked Bhutan’s capital and was also felt in Bangladesh and Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, but there were no signs of further damage in either place.