1999 Chamoli earthquake occurred on 29 March 1999 in the Chamoli
district in the
Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (now in Uttarakhand).
was the strongest to hit the foothills of the Himalayas in more
than ninety years. Approximately 103 people died in the
Range has been undergoing crustal shortening along the
2,400 km long northern edge of the Indian
Plate which resulted in the formation of several thrust planes including the Main Central Thrust
(MCT), the Main Boundary Thrust (MBT) and the Main Frontal Thrust
The MCT consists of three sub-thrusts: MCT I, MCT II
and MCT III. Many earthquakes have occurred along these thrust
faults. Academics believe the Chamoli earthquake in 1999 is
associated with these fault systems.
The magnitude of the earthquake was 6.8 on the Richter scale
, and it lasted for forty
seconds. Apart from the Chamoli district, the quake also affected
five other districts of Uttar Pradesh viz. Rudraprayag, Tehri
Garhwal, Bageshwar, Uttarkashi and Pauri
Garhwal (all are in Uttarakhand now).
Among these, Chamoli and Rudraprayag
were the most affected districts. Aftershocks
continued and most of the aftershocks
occurred in the east of Chamoli. Officials from Pakistan reported that the
quake was also felt in Lahore and Gujranwala. The earthquake was also felt in the Nanda Devi mountain region, in Kanpur, Shimla, Delhi, Dehradun, Haridwar, Saharanpur, Moradabad, Bijnor, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Ghaziabad and Srinagar and in the Baitadi
District, Darchula District
District in Mahakali
Zone in Nepal.
Damage and casualties
Severe ground deformations resulted from the earthquake. Formation
of ground fissures were reported from many areas. Landslides
and changes in the groundwater
flow were also reported.
Well-developed ground cracks were seen in
Gopeshwar, Chamoli and Bairagna.
Cracks were observed
in asphalt roads at several locations. Landslips cut off parts of
Mandakini valley and Mandal valley and many major roads.
The death toll was 103. Several hundred people injured and
approximately 50,000 houses were damaged. Over 2000 villages were
affected by the earthquake. Electricity,
water supply and communication were also severely affected by
the earthquake especially in the Chamoli town, Gopeshwar and
Okhimath region of Rudraprayag district.
According to Mike Wooldridge
for the BBC News
, Chamoli suffered most
damage and almost all the houses and shops built on slopes in the
lower part of the town were destroyed.
The bridge deck of a pedestrian suspension bridge
situated near Bairagna
developed lateral buckling
and the cables
of the bridge were loosened. Water pipelines
Chamoli and Gopeshwar towns were damaged affecting water supply due
to landslides caused by the quake. The concrete-lined canals of the
irrigation network in the affected region sustained some
In Delhi, many buildings sustained non-structural damage. According
to Dr B.L. Wadhera, who filed a public interest
litigation in the Delhi High Court, cracks developed in the Shastri Bhavan in Delhi
which houses several Union Ministries. Damage occurred in
several buildings in Dehradun also.
A few old buildings of the Survey of India
sustained collapse of gable
masonry, and cracks developed along the junctions between the
pitched roof and the masonry walls.
Rescue operations were hampered by landslides, loss of electrical
power and the loss of communication links with Chamoli. Many road
workers became involved to clear landslide debris from a 16 km
stretch of road leading to the worst-affected area. Local people
carried out search and rescue operations. Rescue efforts were led
by the Indian Army
also called-in to aid. The army used helicopters
in supplies. Food and other necessary supplies were air-dropped to
villages which lacked motorable roads and where roads were damaged
due to landslides. Locals organized a committee to make sure that
those most affected receive food.
- World: South Asia Quake death toll nears 100
- Chamoli (Himalaya, India) Earthquake of 29 March
1999 National Information Center of Earthquake
- World: South Asia Earthquake hits India BBC
- Estimation of source parameters of Chamoli Earthquake,
India Indian Academy of Sciences
- Who's afraid of earthquakes really? The Hindu
- 'Delhi ill-equipped to handle quakes' The