(Pic courtesy NDTV)

A powerful earthquake struck the north-east before dawn today, killing at least five people and injuring nearly 40, though the toll was expected to rise, with rescue efforts hampered by severed power supplies and telecommunication links.

The epicentre of the quake, which occurred at 4:35 am, was in Tamenglong district in Manipur, around 30 kilometres west of capital Imphal. It struck at a depth of 57 kilometres (35 miles), according to the US Geological Survey.

The quake struck while most residents in Imphal were asleep. Roofs and staircases of some buildings collapsed due to the impact of the quake.

Several buildings had been damaged, including the hospital, police said.

“It was the biggest earthquake we have felt in Imphal,” disaster response worker Kanarjit Kangujam told Reuters by telephone from Imphal.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a tweet, said that he had spoken to Home Minister Rajnath Singh “who is in Assam, on the situation arising due to the earthquake and asked him to oversee the situation.” (NDTV)