The Centre today directed authorities, including the army and the air force, to help restore power, electricity and other essential services disrupted following a strong earthquake in northern India that particularly affected Jammu and Kashmir.
While the power and communication ministries have been asked to help restore electricity and telecom services, the petroleum ministry has been asked to stand by to provide any assistance, Union Home Secretary V K Duggal said.
"The worst is over. We expect the electricity, water and telecom disruptions in the affected areas to be restored by tonight," Duggal said, after an emergency meeting to assess the damage and to decide the details of relief and rescue operations.
Duggal said the help of the defence ministry had been sought, and that the army and air force were already helping people in Jammu and Kashmir.
While the state was the worst affected due to its proximity to the epicentre of the quake measuring between 7.4 and 7.6 on the Richter scale, there were also "unconfirmed reports" of damage and casualty in Kullu area of Himachal Pradesh, he said. "We [also] have alerted the Indo-Tibet Border Police," he said.
Duggal said much of the relief effort would be concentrated on Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, the states where the strongest tremors were felt.
"We don't think there is any cause for worry now. There is no need to panic. Some aftershocks have been felt in the worst-hit regions but this is a normal phenomenon after an earthquake of such high intensity," the home secretary said, adding "there was no need to activate" the Centre's Disaster Management Group.
Duggal also said not much could be expected of the National Disaster Management Authority at this time, given it had only been constituted October 3.