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Delhi quake: Did IMD goof up?

Why did the IMD get its seismic record wrong - scaling down Wednesday night's quake intensity to 4.2 Richter from its initial 6.6?

When the quake struck the capital and its suburbs at around 11.30 p.m. the Indian Meteorological Department officials in Safdarjung Enclave in south Delhi were frantically trying to get in touch with their counterparts in Delhi University area who man the seismic department office. But the phones lines were busy.

"They have three land lines in the Delhi University office, but they were continuously going busy," an IMD official told IANS, declining to be quoted.

Besieged by journalists and others asking for news of the quake, the IMD officials - very surprisingly - decided to rely on a TV news channel that was flashing the intensity as 6.6!

"We were watching a TV report that was saying 6.6 and relied on it reported it," the official said.

However, the officials quickly corrected themselves after they got the correct information from the Delhi University department.

But in the meantime, the news of the quake intensity as 6.6 had spread like wildfire and was being quoted by everyone.

The quake that had its intensity in Sonepat in Haryana, measured 4.2 on the Richter Scale and was "slight" in intensity, IMD said on its website. It caused thousands of people to come out of their homes in fright when they felt the earth shaking and the furniture swaying and rattling.

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