Thursday, September 24, 2009

Killer Earthquake Strikes Bhutan

At least thirteen people are dead and 1,100 homes damaged after a 6.1 magnitude (as reported by USGS) earthquake struck Bhutan on Monday, at 2:53 P.M. The epicenter was 110 miles east of Thimphu, near the border. This is not far from the site of the largest earthquake ever recorded on land, the 8.5 Assam quake of 1950. Owing to aftershocks, people are afraid to sleep in their homes, and many have resorted to sleeping in the open.

The Bhutanese prime minister has reportedly characterized the event as, "one of the biggest disasters we've seen in recent times." Twenty-three monasteries and chortens have been damaged by the earthquake. Bhutan is located along the boundary between the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates. The Indian plate is moving northwards relative to the Eurasian plate, pushing the Himalayas upwards as the plates collide. As a result, large earthquakes are frequent in the area.

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Severe damage is seen at the Lhuentse Dzong, the Trashigang Dzong and the old and new dzongs in Trashiyangtse.

You can see local coverage at the Bhutan Broadcasting Service website.

This is not good news under any interpretation of events, and we pray for our many brothers and sisters in the region.

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