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Quake Jolts Bangladesh Coast

July 22, 1999

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AP) _ An earthquake an island off Bangladesh’s southern coast today, leaving at least three dead and 500 injured, doctors and residents said.

The intensity of the quake at Maheskhali Island and the neighboring coastal areas was recorded as magnitude 5.2 by the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver, Colo.

But Press Trust of India quoted geologists in India as saying they pegged the temblor’s strength at 4.7. Bangladesh does not possess its own seismographic equipment.

The epicenter of the quake was located about 60 miles south of the Bangladeshi city of Chittagong, the Geological Survey said.

Initial reports suggest Maheskhali, a fishing island of 250,000 people off the coast of Cox’s Bazar, was hardest hit by the quake that lasted up to one minute. Tremors were also felt at Cox’s Bazar town, 18 miles from the island.

At least 500 mainly mud-and-thatch huts in Maheshkali were knocked down, Abdul Jabbar, a resident of the island said in a telephone interview. The island is 185 miles south of the national capital, Dhaka.

Purna Barua, a doctor at a state-run hospital at Maheskhali, said three children who had been buried under collapsed houses died of injuries at the hospital.

Police said they were waiting for reports from remote areas of the 80-square-mile island. Details of rescue efforts were sketchy because night travel by boats is difficult in the rough sea.

Hundreds of Cox’s Bazar residents rushed out into the streets in panic after tremors rattled window panes. No casualties or damage was reported in the town.

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