Bhutan escapes with minor damages

Jan 7, 2016
By Tshering Palden
The 6.7 magnitude earthquake on January 4 had affected 248 structures in the country with most damages reported in the eastern dzongkhags, as they are closer to the epicentre in Manipur, India.
The earthquake affected 221 homes, 13 schools, nine temples, two basic health units, a dzong, and a gewog and Renewal Natural Resources office each. About 80 percent of the damages were reported in Trashiyangtse, Trashigang, Mongar and Pemagatshel.
Of the 248 structures that suffered minor damages, 124 were in the eight gewogs of Trashiyangtse including 11 school buildings and the principal’s quarter at Jangphutse Primary School with major cracks.
A house in Bumdeling gewog, which gewog officials said was empty for about a decade, has almost collapsed.
Four temples, the Tongshang gewog office, and the new Yangtse dzong suffered minor cracks. Toedtsho gewog reported most damages with 45 houses affected, followed by Yallang with 21 houses and Bumdeling reported damages to 19 homes. Jamkhar, Khamdang, Ramjar, and Yangtse gewogs together reported damages to 21 houses altogether.
Reporting damages to 34 homes as of 1.30pm yesterday, Trashigang is the second worst hit dzongkhag. Four gewogs, Phongmey, Samkhar, Yangneer and Radhi reported minor cracks to homes and two community temples.
Three houses in Mongar that reported major damages were downgraded yesterday after gewog and Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan officials visited them to verify.
In the west, Punakha reported the most damages, 22 houses with small cracks to walls.
The mobile network problem on January 5 prevented officials from calling the officials in the dzongkhags.
Mongar dzongkhag disaster focal person, Tashi Wangchuk said he couldn’t connect with officials in the gewogs in the morning and evening.
“I texted them asking to report any damages sustained in their gewogs,”he said.
Damage to structures are considered minor if cracks on the walls are less than 10 centimetres and if it is more than a metre long, the structure is considered to have suffered major damage, officials said.
The earthquake struck west of Imphal, the capital city of Manipur, about 700km from Samdrupjongkhar.
Indian media reported at least nine people dead and about 100 injured in Manipur when the earthquake struck. Bangladesh and Myanmar’s city of Yangoon also felt the tremor with the former reporting three deaths and some injured.
Bumthang, Chukha, Haa, Lhuentse, Paro and Trongsa did not report any damages.
Kuensel, January 7, 2016

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