1934 Nepal–Bihar earthquake

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1934 Nepal-Bihar earthquake
1934 Nepal–Bihar earthquake is located in Tibetan Plateau
1934 Nepal–Bihar earthquake
Date 15 January 1934 (1934-01-15)
Origin time 8:43 UTC
Magnitude 8.2 Mw
Depth 33 km
Epicenter 27°33′N 87°05′E / 27.55°N 87.09°E / 27.55; 87.09Coordinates: 27°33′N 87°05′E / 27.55°N 87.09°E / 27.55; 87.09
Areas affected India, Nepal
Max. intensity XI (Extreme)
Casualties 10,600

The 1934 Nepal-Bihar earthquake or 1934 Bihar-Nepal earthquake was one of the worst earthquakes in the history of Nepal and India. Munger, Kathmandu and Muzaffarpur were completely destroyed. This 8.2 magnitude earthquake occurred on 15 January 1934 at around 2:13 PM (I.S.T.) (08:43 UTC) and caused widespread damage in the northern Bihar and in Nepal.[1]


The epicentre for this event was located in eastern Nepal about 10 km south of Mount Everest. The areas where the most damage to life and property occurred extended from Purnea in the east to Champaran in the west—a distance of nearly 320 km (200 mi)—and from Kathmandu in the north to Munger in the south—a distance of nearly 465 km (289 mi). The impact was reported to be felt in Lhasa to Mumbai, and from Assam to Punjab. The earthquake was so severe that in Kolkata, (around 650 km from epicenter) many buildings were damaged and the tower of St. Paul's Cathedral collapsed.[2]

Ground effects[edit]

One noteworthy phenomenon of this earthquake was that sand and water vents appeared throughout the central vents of the earthquake area. The ground around these sand fissures subsided, causing more damage.[3] Extensive liquefaction of the ground took place over a length of 300 km (called the Slump Belt) during the 1934 Bihar-Nepal earthquake, in which many structures went afloat.[4]

Gandhi visits after the earthquake

In Muzzafarpur, sand fissures erupted at several places in town. The wells were choked with sand, while water levels in tanks became shallower due to sand deposited in the tank beds. Most of the buildings in Muzzafarpur were damaged. All the Kutcha buildings collapsed, while other buildings suffered damage due to sinking and cracking of the ground.


The three important towns of Nepal—Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan—were severely affected and almost all the buildings collapsed. Large cracks appeared in the ground and several roads were damaged in Kathmandu. However, the temple of Pashupatinath, the guardian deity of Nepal, escaped any damage.[5]

In Sitamarhi, not a single house was left standing. In Rajnagar, near Madhubani, all the Kutcha buildings collapsed. The buildings of Darbhanga Raj, including the famous Naulakha Palace, were severely damaged.[5] In Jharia the earthquake led to further spread of underground fire.[6]

The total number of deaths recorded in Bihar was 7253,[5] and other deaths in Nepal totalled 10,800 to 12,000.[7][8]


Mahatma Gandhi visited the Bihar state. He wrote that the Bihar earthquake was providential retribution for India's failure to eradicate untouchability.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Significant earthquake". National Geophysical Data Center. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  2. ^ The Great Indian Earthquake of 1934; Author – Nobuji Nasu; Earthquake Research Institute; Published:1934
  3. ^ Notes on Sand Deposits; Author – Dr. K. S. Caldwell; Published March, 1943
  4. ^ Earth Quake Tip; Author C.V.R.Murty
  5. ^ a b c A report on the Bihar Earthquake and on the measures taken in consequence thereof up to 31 December 1934. W.B. Brett, Relief Commissioner, Bihar and Orissa. Superintendent, Government Printing, Bihar and Orissa, Patna, 1935.
  6. ^ Peripheral Labour: Studies in the History of Partial Proletarianization edited by Shahid Amin, Marcel van der Linden. 1997. p. 83. 
  7. ^ Encyclopedia of Disasters: Environmental Catastrophes and ..by Angus Macleod Gunn - 2008
  8. ^ Advanced Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering by Bharat Bhushan Prasad - 2011- Page 14
  9. ^ Chakrabarty, Bidyut (2005). Social and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi (Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought). Routledge. p. 101. ISBN 978-0415360968. 

External links[edit]