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Mysterious tremors rock Gujarat area

By V.N. Balakrishna, IANS

Junagadh (Gujarat) : Minor but mysterious tremors have been rocking a wide region in Gujarat’s Junagadh district for some six months. There is panic among the residents. But officials say they are helpless.

A team from the Institute of Seismological Research (ISR) has reached the Gir-Talala area to study the reasons for the blast-like sounds and the aftershocks. It will also examine if there is any imminent danger to the region.

For many in Junagadh, the New Year came with a minor bang, with a quake measuring 3.8 in the Richter scale jolting the district at midnight.

A quake of 2.5 intensity soon followed at 2.55 a.m. and then as many as half a dozen aftershocks were felt.

On the Jan 1 night, many houses in the villages of Hirenvel, Amritvel, Borvav, Rasulpara, Surva, Chitravad and Madhupur developed cracks.

All these villages are spread over in a 20-km radius from the Talala sub-district and lie in a straight path.

Before the Talala incident, the town of Visavadar and the nearby villages in the Sasan area of Gir experienced aftershocks Dec 30, 2007. Keshod town too experienced similar shocks the same day.

Speaking to IANS from Gandhinagar, B.K. Rastogi of the National Geophysical Research Institute said that earthquakes were a natural process and nothing can be done about it.

“It is better for the people of this area to live in tents rather than in their houses,” said another official from the institute.

Except for Talala town, most of the other areas were in the forest range.

“We have been doing studies in Talala for the past one month. Our survey could not reveal any hidden faultlines,” Rastogi said. “After some time we plan to do a detailed study.”

In Junagarh district, in the past two months, four quakes measuring over 3 on the Richter scale were recorded.

On Nov 6, 2007, the quake measured 4.8; another one measured 4.9 the same day. On Jan 1, it was 3.5, 3.6 and 2.6 and on Jan 2 it was 3.6.

Though a seismograph was set up at Talala before Diwali by the Gujarat government, the festival was celebrated amid fear that a major earthquake might hit the region.

This was partly based on the fears of mysterious blast like sounds experienced in October 2007 in eight villages — Moruka, Suruva, Vadla, Akol Vadi, Jasapar, Haripar, Rasoolpara and Hadamatiya.

Jasapar village had then experienced 15 “blasts”, leading to panic. Many houses developed cracks on the walls.

The administration explained the phenomenon saying that following heavy monsoon, water seeping underground could have disturbed the air pockets within the bowels of the earth, leading to rumblings.

In 2004, Haripur had experienced similar blasts. A team of experts from New Delhi visited the village and stayed there for some days.

A seismograph was installed in the area but no conclusion could be drawn about the blasts, which began after the massive earthquake that devastated the region of Kutch Jan 26, 2001, killing thousands.