September 21, 2009
GDACS: Orange Earthquake Alert in Bhutan
On 9/21/2009 8:53:08 AM UTC an earthquake of magnitude 6.3 and depth 21km has struck an highly populated area in the Mongar Province (population: 0.1 million) in Bhutan. GDACS estimates the likelihood for need of international humanitarian intervention to be medium (Orange alert).
This earthquake can have a medium humanitarian impact since the affected region is highly populated and has high resilience for natural disasters.
The earthquake 177km from the city of Thimphu. The nearest populated places are Balfai (10km), Thebong (17km), Damoitsi (1km), Gong Thung (15km). It is a mountainous region with a maximum altitude of 6086 m.
Source: The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (www.gdacs.org)
At least twelve people are confirmed killed in Mongar by the earthquake, measuring 6.3 on the richter scale (see: Richter and Mercalli Scales), which hit Bhutan around 3pm on September 21, 2009. Damages to properties including chortens and lhakhangs, are reported in eastern dzongkhags.
Thousands of people in the eastern dzongkhags spent the night out in the open after a powerful earthquake,which damaged homes, government offices, historical monuments, blocked roads and reportedly killed at least 12 people as of 9:30 pm.
The first tremor of the earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale, with its epicentre in Mongar dzongkhag, was felt around 2:55 pm and "made the surrounding hills look like they were throwing up dust," according to Sangay Tenzin, who was driving along the Trashigang-Riju road. "The road was suddenly filled with boulders and mud," he said.About eight tremors were felt in villages of Mongar and Trashigang after the first tremor hit the region. "It wasn't only the magnitude on the Richter scale but also the intensity because, from what we know, the first tremor lasted for almost 5 seconds, which is very long," said Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley.
More than 4 dzongs - Trashigang, Lhuentse, old and new Trashiyangtse -36 chortens and 31 lhakhangs in the region have been damaged and most of the statues in these monuments have been destroyed.
5 in Mongar
4 in Samdrup Jongkhar
3 in Trashigang
- more than 50 houses, 12 chortens, 7 lhakhangs and 3 gup offices in Mongar
More than 1,100 homes have been damaged in the six eastern dzongkhags, according to government officials.