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The BBC's Jill McGivering
"This was an earthquake of terrifying strength"
 real 56k

Regional Development expert Dr Milap Sherma
"The area is becoming more earthquake prone"
 real 28k

The BBC's Satish Jacob in Delhi
"I don't think there was any warning at all"
 real 56k

Friday, 26 January, 2001, 13:10 GMT
Hundreds killed in India quake
Rescue efforts in Ahmedabad
Rescue efforts in Ahmedabad where more than 200 died
More than 1,000 people are reported to have been killed in a powerful earthquake that has struck western India and parts of Pakistan.

Nearly all the victims from the quake - measuring between 6.9 and 7.9 on the Richter scale - are from the Indian town of Bhuj, in the state of Gujarat, and the nearby city of Ahmedabad.

There have been some tragic incidents, like a school which collapsed, trapping at least 30 students

Ahmedabad official
In Pakistan at least two people died when a two-storey home in the city of Hyderabad collapsed.

The earthquake was felt as far away as Bangladesh, Nepal and the town of Pondicherry in south-east India where people fled in panic from a Republic Day parade.

Click here to send us your experience of the earthquake

Seismologists say further tremors are likely.

"The death figure in the earthquake could be 1,000 or more," Indian Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani told reporters in Gujarat after arriving to inspect the damage.

Communications disrupted

The seismological bureau in Delhi located the epicentre was about 20 kilometres (12 miles) north-east of Bhuj, close to the Pakistan border.

First reports said Gujarat's main city, Ahmedabad, had suffered the brunt with more than 200 dead.

But it has now emerged that there are even more dead in Bhuj.

A Red Cross official told BBC News Online that Bhuj contained many old buildings susceptible to earthquake damage.

Gujarat's Home Minister Haren Pandya said people had been alerted to evacuate old buildings or those which have developed cracks.

"Both the main city hospitals are full of patients and bodies," Ahmedabad's senior civil official, K Srinivas said.

"There have been some tragic incidents, like a school which collapsed, trapping at least 30 students," he said.

Doctor Vikram Parjhi at Ahmedabad's main hospital said he had received nearly 200 casualties: "Fifty of those were dead on arrival."

Victim trapped under the rubble.
Many are still trapped under the debris
A rescue operation involving Indian army troops is underway.

There are also reports of heavy casualties in the Gujarat town of Surat.

The Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has summoned an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the disaster.

The quake occurred at about 0850 local time (0320 GMT).

First reports measured it at 6.9 on the Richter scale but later the U.S. Geological Survey measured it at 7.9.

Taking to the streets

In India's financial centre, Bombay, cracks appeared in walls, and plaster fell from ceilings as some residents took to the streets, fearful of buildings collapsing.

Death tolls in recent Indian earthquakes
Bihar 1988 More than 1,000
Uttar Pradesh 1991 More than 1,000
Maharashtra 1993 At least 7,500
Uttar Pradesh 1999 More than 100

The quake hit the capital, Delhi, just before the massive annual military parade to celebrate Republic Day. where thousands of soldiers and police were on alert against any possible terrorist attack.

Millions of Hindu pilgrims attending the Kumbh Mela festival in India's eastern state of Uttar Pradesh felt the ground sway beneath them, but there was no panic.

A BBC correspondent in neighbouring Pakistan says it was the most powerful earthquake to strike there in decades.

The building shook so much that it developed cracks, it was like being on a swing

Gujarat employee

Two children died in the city of Hyderabad when their home, still under construction, collapsed.

"I first thought it was a bomb blast but then something fell on my only daughter," the mother of four-year-old victim Zainab Somroo said.

Local authorities said that government buildings were constructed to withstand earthquakes but most private buildings were not.

In the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, many people ran out of their homes as they felt the tremor, but there are no indications of casualties.

"At first I felt dizzy and thought I was not feeling well but when things began to shake a lot for sometime I realized it was an earthquake so I yelled at other family members to go out to safety," Ram Prasad Sharma told AFP.

The last major earthquake to hit the subcontinent, in 1999, killed about 100 people in the lower Himalaya region.

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See also:

26 Jan 01 | South Asia
In pictures: India quake
31 Mar 99 | South Asia
Quake death toll over 100
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Deadly history of earthquakes
30 Mar 99 | Medical notes
Natural disasters
22 Feb 00 | South Asia
Oxfam attacks Indian disaster policy
26 Jan 01 | South Asia
Quake rocks Pakistan
26 Jan 01 | South Asia
Tight security for India celebration
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