An earthquake struck the eastern region of Bhutan on September 21, 2009 at 14h53 local time. It is the most damaging disaster that Bhutan has experienced in recent times. According to the US Geological Survey, the quake registered a magnitude of 6.3 (later revised to 6.1), with the epicenter 180 kilometers east of the capital, Thimphu. According to updated reports of the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB), 12 people died and 47 were injured. A total of 4,614 households are reported to have been affected in 12 dzongkhags, representing approximately ten percent of all households in some areas. An estimated 7,290 people were left without adequate shelter. Aftershocks have caused further damage and created fear among affected communities, with many people preferring to stay outside their houses. The earthquake caused destruction of infrastructure and institutions including 91 schools, 25 health centers and hospitals, 50 government offices, 281 monasteries, and 485 stupas (chortens) and 7 Dzongs (district administration centers).
A joint rapid assessment of damage and loss was carried out collaboratively with officials from the Royal Government, UN agencies and the World Bank. This Joint Rapid Assessment presents preliminary cost estimates for loss and damage as a result of the earthquake, and estimates recovery and reconstruction costs. It identifies priorities for early recovery, reconstruction and disaster risk reduction, and a time-line for addressing them. It presents long-term challenges for achieving improved building and planning practices, and draws upon considerable global experience of the UN system and the World Bank in supporting recovery and reconstruction programmes.