1934 Nepal–India earthquake

Coordinates: 26°52′N 86°35′E / 26.86°N 86.59°E / 26.86; 86.59
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1934 Nepal–India earthquake
1934 Nepal–India earthquake is located in Nepal
1934 Nepal–India earthquake
UTC time1934-01-15 08:43:25
ISC event904745
Local date15 January 1934 (1934-01-15)
Local time2:13 pm IST
Magnitude8.0 Mw[1]
Depth15 km (9.3 mi)[1]
Epicenter26°52′N 86°35′E / 26.86°N 86.59°E / 26.86; 86.59[1]
FaultMain Frontal-Himalayan Thrust
Max. intensityX (Extreme)[2]

The 1934 Nepal–India earthquake or 1934 Bihar–Nepal earthquake was one of the worst earthquakes in India's history. The towns of Munger and Muzaffarpur were completely destroyed. This 8.0 magnitude earthquake occurred on 15 January 1934 at around 2:13 pm IST (08:43 UTC) and caused widespread damage in northern Bihar and in Nepal.[3]


The epicentre for this event was located in eastern Nepal about 9.5 km (5.9 mi) south of Mount Everest.[4] 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 or 200 mi), and from Kathmandu in the north to Munger in the south (a distance of nearly 465 km or 289 mi). The impact was reported to be felt in Lhasa to Bombay, and from Assam to Punjab. The earthquake was so severe that in Kolkata, around 650 km (404 mi) from epicenter, many buildings were damaged and the tower of St. Paul's Cathedral collapsed.[5]

Ground effects[edit]

A particular phenomenon of the 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.[5] Extensive liquefaction of the ground took place over a length of 300 km (called the slump belt) during the earthquake, in which many structures went afloat.[6]

Gandhi visits after the earthquake

In Muzaffarpur, 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 (ramshackle) buildings collapsed, while other pukka (solidly built) buildings suffered damage due to sinking and cracking of the ground.[5]


The three major towns of the Kathmandu Valley in NepalKathmandu, 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.[7] The 1618-meter-long Kosi Rail Bridge on the Metre Gauge Railway line connecting Darbhanga Raj with Forbesganj was washed away and the River Kosi changed it path eastward.

In Sitamarhi, not a single house was left standing. In Bhagalpur district many buildings collapsed. In Patna, many buildings in the bazaar were destroyed and damage was particularly severe along the river.[5] In Rajnagar, near Madhubani, all the Kutcha buildings collapsed. The buildings of Darbhanga Raj, including the famous Navlakha Palace, were severely damaged.[7] In Jharia the earthquake led to further spread of underground fire.[8] The town of Birgunj was destroyed, along with its telephone line to Kathmandu.[9]

The number of deaths was 10,700–12,000[4][2] with 7,253 recorded in Bihar.[7]

A 1935 work by Major General Brahma Shamsher documenting the event, Nepalko Maha Bhukampa 1990, stated that this was Nepal's most destructive earthquake in living memory, and praised the Nepalese Army for its work in relief efforts.[9][10]


Mahatma Gandhi visited the Bihar state. He wrote that the Bihar earthquake was providential retribution for India's failure to eradicate untouchability.[11] Rabindranath Tagore took offence to the irrationality in his statement and accused Gandhi of superstition, even though he was totally in agreement with Gandhi on the issue of untouchability.[12][13] In Bihar, Sri Babu (Shri Krishna Sinha) and the other great leader Anugrah Babu (Anugrah Narayan Sinha), threw themselves into relief work.[14] Maghfoor Ahmad Ajazi, an eminent freedom fighter, worked extensively in the earthquake relief operations.[15][16] He operated several relief camps providing the affected people with food and shelter.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c ISC (2015), ISC-GEM Global Instrumental Earthquake Catalogue (1900–2009), Version 2.0, International Seismological Centre
  2. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey. "Historic Earthquakes – Bihar, India – Nepal". U.S. Department of the Interior. Archived from the original on 29 April 2015. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  3. ^ "Significant earthquake". National Geophysical Data Center. Archived from the original on 16 December 2017. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  4. ^ a b Gunn, Angus Macleod (30 December 2007). "Bihar, India, earthquake". Encyclopedia of Disasters: Environmental Catastrophes and Human Tragedies. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 337–339. ISBN 978-0-313-08747-9.
  5. ^ a b c d Nasu, Nobuji (20 March 1935). "The Great Indian Earthquake of 1934" (PDF). Earthquake Research Institute. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 May 2015. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  6. ^ Murty, C.V.R.; Malik, Javed N. "Challenges of Low-to-Moderate Seismicity in India" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 June 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2015.
  7. ^ a b c Brett, William Bailie (1935). A Report on the Bihar Earthquake and on the Measures Taken in Consequence Thereof Up to the 31st December 1934. Superintendent, Government Print. Available at The South Asia Archive
  8. ^ Amin, Shahid; Linden, Marcel van der (1997). Peripheral Labour: Studies in the History of Partial Proletarianization. Cambridge University Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-521-58900-0.
  9. ^ a b Bipin Adhikari. The Great Earthquake of 1934 Archived 29 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine. NewSpotLight Nepal News Magazine, Vol. 8, No. 22, 22 May 2015. Accessed 29 May 2015.
  10. ^ Rāṇā, Brahmaśamśera Jaṅgabahādūra, and Kesar Lall. The Great Earthquake in Nepal (1934 A.D.). 1st English edition. Kathmandu: Ratna Pustak Bhandar, 2013. ISBN 9789937330152
  11. ^ Chakrabarty, Bidyut (2006). Social and Political Thought of Mahatma Gandhi. Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought. Taylor & Francis. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-415-36096-8.
  12. ^ "When Tagore accused Gandhi of superstition".
  13. ^ "Suggesting religious reasons for quakes isn't new: Mahatma Gandhi did that in 1934".
  14. ^ Ramaswami Venkataraman; India. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Publications Division (1990). So may India be great: selected speeches and writings of President R. Venkataraman. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Govt. of India.
  15. ^ Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (2003). NMML Manuscripts: An Introduction. Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. p. 120. ISBN 9788187614050.
  16. ^ "Freedom Fighter Dr Maghfoor Ahmad Ajazi remembered on Republic Day". Prabhat Khabar (in Hindi). 24 January 2022.
  17. ^ "मग़फ़ुर अहमद अजाज़ी : जंग ए आज़ादी का गुमनाम सिपाही!". Teesri Jung (in Hindi). 4 March 2021.

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