02 March, 2021

The Angry Earth

What caused it is a story of many ifs. But it's one more wake-up call.

The Angry Earth
It was as if 425 atom bombs had exploded in the earth’s bowels—each equal in power to ‘Little Boy’, dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Rumbling a fearsome 8 on the Richter, within seconds it unleashed waves of destruction and mayhem that rippled through the earth from Bhuj—reaching all parts of the subcontinent and even China.

Unlike Latur in 1993, which took quake experts by surprise by occurring in an area seen as seismically serene, this tremblor was consistent with received knowledge and, thus, not completely unexpected. It occurred in a region known for its seismic vulnerability—clocking major earthquakes of intensity going over 7 on the Richter at least once in 50 years, interspersed with frequent minor ones.

Indeed, the earliest recorded quake in Gujarat—in 1819, at 8 on the Richter—happened here. It’s said to have flattened entire villages, including a monument called the Sindree Fort, and crushed 3,500 people. But most famously, it ripped the earth apart and created a 140-km-long scarp—an elevation of bunched-up soil—in the Little Rann of...

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