Quake rumour sends people out of homes in Jharkhand

May 19th, 2008 - 5:34 pm ICT by admin  

Ranchi, May 19 (IANS) People in many parts of Jharkhand ran out of their homes in the early hours Monday and spent hours on the roads following widespread rumours that an earthquake was about to occur. In Ranchi, thousands of people came onto the streets at around 1.30 a.m. and many made frantic calls to alert their relatives and friends in other parts of the state.

Panic set in after a wake-up call from a mosque here, alerting people about the “impending disaster”.

“I heard an announcement from a mosque that a natural calamity was about to hit the state. ‘Come out from houses’,” said Mohammad Arbaz of Hindpiri locality here.

Residents said the announcement from the mosque was heard at around 1 a.m. that warned a natural calamity would strike at 2.35 a.m.

People came out in large numbers in districts like Hazaribagh, Jamshedpur, Bokaro and Giridih as the rumour spread.

Police and district officials were taken aback with the panic created by the false alert.

Meteorologists and district authorities denied having any information regarding a natural calamity or earthquake. People finally started going back to their homes after 4 in the morning.

“It was a sleepless night for us. We came out with our children and spent four hours on the roads in fear of the anticipated earthquake,” said Sailen Sen, a Ranchi resident.

A similar quake alert was issued by a few mosques in Ranchi in March last year too. But there was no temblor.

“We will interact with the maulvis (clerics) and request them not to make any such announcements without having any authentic information. This is the second time in Ranchi that an earthquake announcement was made,” a government official said.

“Ranchi comes under the ’safe zone’ as far as earthquakes are concerned. But neighbouring districts like Lohardagga and Hazaribagh come under the ‘danger zone’,” said Nitish Priyadarshi, a geologist here.

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