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Strong 6.7 quake hits near India-Myanmar border

A strong 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck northeast India near the country's borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh early Monday, sending people fleeing into the streets with dozens injured in the panic.

The early morning tremor was strongly felt across northeast India and in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, where television reports said at least 24 people were taken to hospital after being injured in the scramble that ensued.

The US Geological Survey said the quake hit at 4:35 am (2305 GMT Sunday) 29 kilometres (18 miles) west-northwest of the Indian city of Imphal.

"Books were falling from the shelves. I thought the house would collapse," Imphal resident Yurreipem Arthur told AFP by phone from the city, capital of Manipur state.

There were similar scenes in the northeast Indian city of Guwahati, where some buildings were reported to have been damaged by the tremor.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in India, but an AFP correspondent in Guwahati, the main commercial city of the mineral-rich state of Assam, said residents there were "in a state of shock" after being woken by the shaking.

The tremors were felt as far away as Kolkata some 600 kilometres distant in the Indian state of West Bengal, where buildings shook.

"Many people were seen coming out of their homes in panic," said local resident Rabin Dev.

India's seven northeastern states, joined to the rest of the country by a narrow sliver of land, are located in an area of frequent seismic activity. The border region is remote and sparsely populated on the Myanmar side.

In 1950, dozens of villages were swallowed in a string of disasters generated by a powerful earthquake whose epicentre was in Tibet but which caused the greatest destruction to India's Assam state.

More than 1,500 people died in the quake, which had a magnitude of 7.6, and its disastrous aftermath of landslides and floods.

The USGS initial impact assessment said "some casualties and damage are possible and the impact should be relatively localised".

It said buildings in the area were largely "highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking".

USGS issued a yellow alert for casualties and damage, with a 35 percent likelihood of between one and 10 deaths from the tremor.

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