Nepal-India border Nepal 1988 (CAR)

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Event ID
198808202309
Event name
Nepal-India border
Country
Nepal
Epicentral coordinates (long/lat)
POINT(86.62 26.76)
WKT GIS format
GEMECD contributing partner
CAR
Event narrative

On Sunday 21st August 1988, at 04:39 local time, an earthquake of moment magnitude 6.8 and focal depth of 57 km struck the eastern part of Nepal and Bihar State in India.

The main shock’s epicentre (26.76°N, 86.62°E) was near the town of Udayapur in Nepal’s Sagarmatha zone.

In the USGS EXPO-CAT database it is estimated that during this earthquake 4,297,000 people were exposed to intensity VII or higher, of which around 95% were in rural areas.

Most affected were the three eastern zones of Nepal (Sagarmatha, Koshi and Mechi) and Bihar State’s Darbhanga, Madhubani and Saharsa districts, but the damage zone for the predominant in the region one and two storey brick masonry buildings extended for a radius of around 150 km from the epicentre with damage reported in the Kathmandu Valley, Munger district of Bihar as well as further away in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal and in Gangtok (Sikkim).

Date of occurrence (UTC)
1988-08-20
date
Time of occurrence (UTC)
23:09:00
time
Date of occurrence (local)
1988-08-21
date
Time of occurrence (local)
04:39:00
time
Day of the week (local)
Sunday
was it a holiday
Yes
boolean
Magnitude
6.8
Magnitude units
Moment (Mw)
Focal depth
57
km
Seismological data: source
USGS
Seismological data: comment

ShakeMap Atlas

Overall impact

As the event occurred in the middle of the night, human casualties reached 1004 deaths (of which 722 in Nepal) and 11,095 injured (of which 66% occurred in Nepal).

Tall buildings and civil engineering structures suffered little damage even in the epicentral region. The extensive nature of the damage zone to housing was also due to the geological and topographical conditions prevailing in the Gangetic alluvial plain and the steep hills of the Eastern Himalaya range, that dominate the geography of the affected region.

The worst affected area was Dharan city (population 118,000) in the Sunsari district of Koshi zone, Nepal, where 122 people were killed. This city is situated right on the border between the hill area and the alluvial plain with an elevation of 300 to 560 metres. In Dharan city centre, there were 63 deaths and 107 collapsed buildings, of which 84 were two or three storeyed brick masonry buildings.

In total more than 78,000 dwelling units were destroyed or damaged beyond repair (32% of these in India), living an estimated 460,000 people homeless in Nepal.

The total cost of the earthquake was estimated at about 242 million US$, of which 70 million US$ in India.

Overview data
Loss: Human Casualty
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People injured
11095
number
People injured: source
Murakami et al. (1990). Pattern of casualty occurrence due to the 1988 earthquake in Nepal-India border region. 9th Symposium on Earthquake Engineering, Roorke, India, December 14-16, 1990.
People injured: comment

7329 in Nepal & 3766 in India.

More than 16000 injured in Nepal & India is also often quoted (e.g. Wikipedia).


People seriously injured
3500
number
People seriously injured: source
Murakami et al. (1990). Pattern of casualty occurrence due to the 1988 earthquake in Nepal-India border region. 9th Symposium on Earthquake Engineering, Roorke, India, December 14-16, 1990.
People seriously injured: comment

2450 seriously injured in Nepal. Unknown number of seriously injured in India (among 3766 injured)

People seriously injured: status
Approximate

People missing
0
number

People killed
999
number
People killed: source
Murakami et al. (1990). Pattern of casualty occurrence due to the 1988 earthquake in Nepal-India border region. 9th Symposium on Earthquake Engineering, Roorke, India, December 14-16, 1990.
People killed: comment

717 in eastern Nepal & 282 in Bihar (India) incl. detailed breakdown by district.
The often reported figures of 1465 or 1450 deaths in this event cannot be corroborated.

People killed: status
Needs improvement

People missing due to tsunami
0
number
People killed due to tsunami
0
number
People missing due to fire following
0
number
People killed due to fire following
0
number
Loss: Building damage
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Total number of buildings destroyed by shaking
80000
number
Total number of buildings destroyed by shaking: source
Nepal Disaster Report 2009 by Ministry of Home Affairs and Nepal Disaster Preparedness Network
Total number of buildings destroyed by shaking: comment

In Nepal: 66,382 buildings collapsed or seriously damaged. Murakami et al. (1990) report 53,212 destroyed private houses.
More than 2000 school buildings were ruined beyond repair.
Fujiwara et al. (1989) report 1671 destroyed public buildings only in Dharan Bazaar town.
In India, Fujiwara et al. (1989) report 25,093 destroyed private houses.

Total number of buildings destroyed by shaking: status
Greater than

Number of buildings damaged by shaking
200000
number
Number of buildings damaged by shaking: source
Murakami et al. (1990). Pattern of casualty occurrence due to the 1988 earthquake in Nepal-India border region. 9th Symposium on Earthq. Engin., India & Fujiwara et al. (1989). Reconn. Report on the 21 Aug. 1988 earthq. in the Nepal-India border region.
Number of buildings damaged by shaking: comment

128,281 damaged houses in Bihar State (India)
51,102 damaged houses in Nepal.
Many thousands more damaged private and (or) public ownership non-residential buildings, e.g. only in Dharan Bazaar town (Nepal) there were 2604 damaged publicly onwed buildings.
In Nepal there were around 4000 damaged school buildings (excl. the 2000 school buildings that were destroyed).

Number of buildings damaged by shaking: status
Approximate

Number of dwellings destroyed by shaking
78305
number
Number of dwellings destroyed by shaking: source
Murakami et al. (1990). Pattern of casualty occurrence due to the 1988 earthquake in Nepal-India border region. 9th Symposium on Earthq. Engin., India & Fujiwara et al. (1989). Reconn. Report on the 21 Aug. 1988 earthq. in the Nepal-India border region.
Number of dwellings destroyed by shaking: comment

53212 in Nepal (from Murakami) & 25093 in India (from Fujiwara).

Number of dwellings destroyed by shaking: status
Approximate

Number of dwellings damaged by shaking
179343
number
Number of dwellings damaged by shaking: source
Murakami et al. (1990). Pattern of casualty occurrence due to the 1988 earthquake in Nepal-India border region. 9th Symposium on Earthq. Engin., India & Fujiwara et al. (1989). Reconn. Report on the 21 Aug. 1988 earthq. in the Nepal-India border region.
Number of dwellings damaged by shaking: comment

Excl. the destroyed dwellings.
In Nepal 51,102 (from Murakami) & 128241 in India (deducting 25093 destroyed reported by Fujiwara from the total of 157,334 reported by Murakami).

Number of dwellings damaged by shaking: status
Approximate

Loss: Socioeconomic
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People homeless
460000
number
People homeless: source
Kreimer and Preece. Case study: Nepal Municipal Development and Earthquake Reconstruction Project.
People homeless: comment

An estimated 460,000 people were without shelter in Nepal. Considering there were circa 78,000 destroyed dwellings in Nepal and India, the number of people whose homes would need to be rebuilt would be expected to be greater than 390,000 (assuming 5 persons per dwelling).

People homeless: status
Greater than

Direct economic loss
242
million US$
Direct economic loss: source
Government of Nepal, Munich Re (for India)
Direct economic loss: comment

Nepal: 78 million US$ (houses); 62 million US$ (roads & bridges) & 32 million US$ (schools). Total=172 million US$.
India: 70 million US$.


Indirect economic loss: status
N/A

Insured loss
0
million US$
Insured loss: source
Munich Re

Demographics
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Total number of buildings: status
N/A