Delhi Earthquake: NASA’s Warning Message Proved Fake; Yet, Studies Warn of Stronger Quake

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By TWC India Edit Team

TWC India

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File photo of the last major earthquake near India-Pakistan border on September 25, 2019.(Xinhua/Ahmad Kamal/IANS)

A mild earthquake was recorded in the eastern parts of national capital Delhi at 5:45 pm on Sunday, April 12. The National Centre for Seismology in India reports a magnitude of 3.4 on the Richter scale at the epicenter near the Delhi Jal Board in Sonia Vihar at a depth of 6.5 km.

As per the US Geological Survey (USGS), the magnitude of the temblor was 3.7 and the epicenter was Sardhana in Uttar Pradesh—less than 100 km from Delhi. The earthquake was mild in nature and no injury or damage to property has been reported so far.

NASA didn’t predict earthquake on Sunday

In an unfortunate coincidence, a fake message saying that the US space agency NASA predicted a strong earthquake in Delhi-NCR between April 7-15 became so viral in India that the fact-checking arm of the government had to intervene to deny any such prediction. The clarifications came just hours before the mild earthquake in Delhi on Sunday evening.

It was, however, not as strong as conveyed in the fake video which warned people of an earthquake of magnitude 9.1.

“Claim: According to NASA’s assessment, a strong earthquake is going to happen in Delhi. #PIBFactCheck: The video being viral is an analysis done by a news channel in 2018, according to which it is a #FakeNews. No such prediction has been made by NASA,” PIB fact-check team tweeted late on Saturday.

Experts have clarified repeatedly that, with the available technologies, the exact time, place and magnitude of earthquakes cannot be predicted long before it occurs. The US Geological Survey, a scientific agency of the United States government, says on its website that “neither the USGS nor any other scientists have ever predicted a major earthquake.”

“Scientists can only calculate the probability that a significant earthquake will occur in a specific area within a certain number of years,” USGS said. Therefore, the prediction circulated on social media about the earthquake in Delhi turns out to be false.

Stronger earthquake on cards

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File photo of the last major earthquake near India-Pakistan border on September 25, 2019.(Chudary Naseer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The entire Himalayan seismic zone is vulnerable to strong earthquakes. The Indian tectonic plate is continuously driving into the Eurasian plates around this region at a speed of 44 mm/year. Due to this motion of tectonic plates, stress builds up, and the earthquakes are triggered to release tension.

Many parts of north, east and northeastern India are at constant risk of strong earthquakes due to this phenomenon. The maximum risk areas for high-intensity earthquakes are classified as Zone-V in India. The zone broadly comprises entire northeastern India, parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, parts of North Bihar and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Delhi comes under the Zone-IV, where highest damage is possible due to earthquakes.

The long-term seismological analysis in the region shows that the amount of energy getting accumulated in the subduction zones is not equally dissipated through the small and moderate earthquakes that we are seeing right now. The energy has been building up, and the only relief is a strong earthquake.

Consequently, an earthquake of magnitude higher than eight has been projected in the Himalayan seismic zone. To compare, the Nepal earthquake of 2015 was of magnitude 7.8, and it claimed over 8,800 lives. Scientists, therefore, urge the people and authorities to be prepared by strict adherence to the building codes.

As they say, earthquakes do not kill people; buildings do!

(with inputs from IANS)

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