In Darjeeling hills, vast areas plunged into darkness following severe disruptions in power supplies

Tremors were felt in the city and across the State, particularly in north Bengal, following the earthquake that originated near the Sikkim-Nepal border on Sunday evening.

Three persons were reported killed, though only one was officially confirmed, in the Darjeeling hills. It is feared that the toll will rise.

There was widespread panic in the city as people rushed outside their homes. People visiting shopping malls and market places, which were unusually crowded in view of the coming Durga Puja festival, hurried out of the buildings out of fear of aftershocks. Reports of buildings suffering wall cracks were trickling in.

In the Darjeeling hills and north Bengal, aftershocks were felt later in the evening. Vast areas plunged into darkness following disruptions in power supply. Mobile communication was also affected.

There were reports of landslips in parts of the hills, given the region's proximity to Sikkim. The main highway linking Sikkim to the rest of the country passes through north Bengal.

The State administration has put district authorities on alert and control rooms and helplines have been opened.

“Although the earthquake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, is categorised as moderate, it was on the higher side of moderate. There is no reason to panic as the main thrust of the quake is over,” said G.C. Debnath, Director of the weather section of the Alipore Meteorological department.

Mr. Debnath said heavy rainfall in north Bengal over the past few days could increase the likelihood of further landslips and subsidence in the region. The region is vulnerable to seismic activity and aftershocks will continue to be felt for the next 24 hours, he said.

Don't panic: Mamata

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee appealed to the people not to panic, even as she emphasised that given the possibilities of aftershocks there was need for caution. She said that she had assured Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling that West Bengal would provide whatever assistance his State might require.

Minister for Industries and Commerce Partha Chatterjee is scheduled to leave for north Bengal. He, along with Minister for North Bengal Affairs Gautam Deb, would review the situation in the region, Ms. Banerjee said. The intensity of the tremors was the severest in north Bengal, she told a local news channel.

Buildings tilt in Dhaka

Haroon Habib reports from Dhaka

A moderate earthquake rocked Dhaka, many major towns and most parts of Bangladesh forcing people out of their homes and workplaces. A number of high-rise buildings have tilted here. The tremor of 6.8 magnitude jolted almost the whole country for about 10 to 15 seconds around 6.42 p.m. (Bangladesh Standard Time).