NEW DELHI, India (AP) _ A severe earthquake struck India's Himalayan foothills early Monday, killing 47 people and shaking a broad stretch of northern India, news reports and officials said.

India's seismological department measured the quake at a magnitude of 6.8, which it described as powerful enough to be ``severe and damaging.'' It lasted close to 40 seconds.

The epicenter was in a remote area of the Kumaon hills in the state of Uttar Pradesh, about 75 miles east of the city of Dehra Dun and 185 miles from New Delhi.

B. M. Vohra, the commissioner of Dehra Dun district, told The Associated Press that 32 people died at Chamoli. Sixty-two houses also were destroyed.

Another 15 people were killed in nearby Rudraprayag, Press Trust of India news agency said.

The death toll was likely to rise as reports came in from remote villages.

Vohra said 10 medical teams and two helicopters had left for the area to aid earthquake victims.

Monday's quake was felt in major northern cities of Varanasi, Kanpur and Chandigarh. About 25 minutes after the quake, a series of aftershocks rumbled across the landscape.

A major earthquake hit the nearby Uttar Kashi area in 1990, killing hundreds of people.