Two Indian soldiers were killed on Tuesday when their vehicle was crushed by falling boulders after a moderate earthquake struck an eastern mountain state and triggered landslides, authorities said.
The tremors, which were also felt across the border in northern Bangladesh, sent people running from their homes in the region, witnesses said, and cracks were reported in some buildings.
“The soldiers were killed when big boulders rolled down a hill top onto the vehicle in which they were traveling,” Ravindra Telang, administrator of East Sikkim district, told Reuters by phone.
The incident took place at Cheratahang, 25 miles northeast of Gangtok, capital of Sikkim state where the 5.7-magnitude earthquake was centered.
“Many buildings have been damaged and we have evacuated five families from some vulnerable buildings,” Telang said. “We are now counting the other damaged buildings across the capital.”
An India Meteorological Department official said the epicenter was 700 miles north of the eastern city of Kolkata and the earthquake occurred at 6:25 a.m.
Sikkim legislator Norzang Lepcha told Reuters from Gangtok that boulders that rolled down the hills had blocked roads.
Remote Sikkim has a population of more than 550,000. It is one of India’s smallest states and known for its scenic Himalayan landscape.
People in the northern part of West Bengal state also felt the earthquake. “Lots of people panicked and ran out of their homes. But I have not heard of casualties,” journalist Niraj Lama said from the hill town of Darjeeling.