Guwahati: Panic has gripped people in the Northeast with four earthquakes rocking the region in the past three weeks, including a 5.9 magnitude tremor on Friday, the biggest in the past nine years.
"Everyone is asking the same question - are we prepared to deal with a major disaster? We have not seen any urgency on the part of the government to activate its disaster management cells," said Arun Mahanta, a doctor.
Friday`s pre-dawn tremor was the fourth to have jolted the region in the past three weeks - an earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale took place Monday, while another of 4.9 magnitude was experienced on August 19, and a tremor of 5.6 intensity shook the region on August 11.
"A major earthquake in the region is due any time. We are saying this on the basis of studies, although earthquakes cannot be predicted as such," said Surjya Kanta Sarmah, a professor of geophysics at Gauhati University.
All the four tremors shook houses and other structures in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura, besides being felt in Myanmar as well.
"Obviously we are worried and there is a general sense of panic among people in the entire region," said Monto Singh, a college teacher in Manipur capital Imphal.
Authorities in the Northeast are yet to react or show any urgency even after frequent quakes rocked the region.
"There should have been awareness campaigns and public announcements about the dos and don`ts in the event of an earthquake. But we have not seen any such steps from the government," said Mrinal Das, a geologist in Guwahati.
The seven northeastern states - Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur - are considered by seismologists as the sixth major earthquake prone belt in the world. The region experienced one of the worst earthquakes, measuring 8.7 on the Richter scale, in 1897 that claimed the lives of over 1,600 people.