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Darjeeling residents gathered in Chowrastha as quake tremor hits town

Darjeeling Chowrastha
The aftershock of the earthquake that struck on Sunday sent people in Darjeeling scurrying to open places like the Chowrastha. When the aftershock at 12.41 pm hit the town, people including traders whose shops were located in tall buildings rushed to Chowrastha, even as hundreds of others took to the open streets.
“I left my shop which is inside the Dragon market on Ladenla road open and rushed to Chowrastha when the first tremor hit the town. Several others also followed me out of their shops. We are hearing that aftershocks will continue which is a giving me a scary feeling,” said a Subala Pradhan, shop-owner, who later in the day asked a known person to close her establishment. Another trader Pemba, said, “Yesterday, having felt the tremor and now another one, I am at my wit’s ends. I am constantly calling my family to know their situation. It is Sunday today and we usually do good business but I will go back home early to be with my family”.
Unofficial reports say that the cracks have developed in some properties in Darjeeling. “A new market complex at Ladenla Road has sustained damage while minor cracks are also visible in one of the building in the district administration premises,” one said.
Cracks was also seen in one of the building of the army headquarter at Jalapahar. “We had repaired the cracks after the 2011 quake. But, today the same wall split after the tremor. But otherwise there is no damage,” said Brigadier Sachdev of the Jalapahar Army Cantonment.
In the fringe areas of the town, people have already started camping in open available grounds. “We have come to the high school ground because we fear we there will more tremors in the night. We don’t want to take chances, “said a housewife from the Rajbari area where the ground is located over phone to this reporter.
Even tourists aware of the procedures flocked to the safety of the popular Hills promenade. “I know that we must be in open space which is why I rushed to Chowrastha along with other tourists when we felt the tremor in the afternoon. We will stay here for some time and then return back to our hotel. But I am really sacred what will happen in the evening and night,” said Tarun Talukdhar from Kolkata.
In Chowk Bazar which is the business and market area of the town, people jostled for space on the narrow streets even as vehicles plying to other places found it difficult to negotiate when the first aftershock occurred. The unplanned way in which tall structures have been built in Darjeeling is a constant worry during earthquakes and landslides. People continued to watch the tall buildings that surround the market with many even pointing to possible cracks in some of the structures.
The quake in Nepal has brought back to Darjeeling the memories of the devastation in September 2011. “Thank god nothing happened in this earthquake. But I am still in a state of shock. It brought back the dreaded memory of the September 2011 quake,” said Janaki Biswakarma, a housewife who in 2011 had stayed in a rehabilitation centre for nearly a week fearing the aftershocks.
The 2011 earthquake had severely damaged government and public properties in the hills though there were no casualties. It however did cause extensive damage in the neighbouring state of Sikkim.(EOIC)

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