Deadly 6.5 magnitude earthquake shakes Pakistan and Afghanistan

A 6.5 magnitude earthquake rocked much of Pakistan and Afghanistan on Tuesday, sending panicked residents fleeing homes and offices and scaring people even in remote villages. At least nine people died.

More than 100 people have been rushed to hospitals in the Swat Valley region of Pakistan’s northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in shock, state services spokesman Bilal Faizi said. Pakistani emergency to the Associated Press.

“These terrified people collapsed, and some of them collapsed from the shock of the earthquake,” he said. Faizi said most were later discharged from hospital.

Faizi and other officials said nine people as roofs collapsed in various parts of northwestern Pakistan. Dozens more were injured in the quake, which centered in Afghanistan and was also felt in neighboring Tajikistan.

Taimoor Khan, spokesman for the provincial disaster management authority in the North West, said at least 19 mud-brick houses collapsed in remote areas. “We are still collecting damage data,” he said.

Police gather at a hospital where earthquake victims were taken to in Saidu Sharif, Pakistan on Tuesday. (Naveed Ali/Associated Press)

The powerful tremors caused many people to flee their homes and offices in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, some reciting verses from the Quran, Islam’s holy book. The media suggested that cracks had appeared in some apartment buildings in the city.

The scene was repeated in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan.

“The earthquake was so strong and terrifying, we thought houses were collapsing on top of us, people were all screaming and in shock,” Kabul resident Shafiullah Azimi said.

The US Geological Survey said the center of the 6.5-magnitude quake was located 40 kilometers south-southeast of Jurm in Afghanistan’s mountainous Hindukush region, bordering Pakistan and Tajikistan. He said the depth of the earthquake was 187.6 kilometers.

Rakhshinda Tauseed, a doctor, said she was in her hospital in Lahore, eastern Pakistan, when the earthquake struck. “I quickly asked the patients to move to a safer place,” she said.

Khurram Shahzad, a resident of the Pakistani garrison town of Rawalpindi, said he was having dinner with his family at a restaurant when the walls started swaying.

“I quickly thought it was a big one, and we left the restaurant and went out,” he told The Associated Press by phone. He said he saw hundreds of people standing in the streets.

People gather in the street.
People walk out of a restaurant after a tremor was felt in Lahore, Pakistan on Tuesday. (Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

The situation was similar in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on the border with Afghanistan, where people were seen standing outside their homes and offices.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said in a statement that he asked disaster management officials to remain vigilant in handling any situation.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the main spokesman for the Taliban government in Afghanistan, tweeted that the Ministry of Public Health had ordered all health centers to be on standby.

The region is prone to violent seismic upheavals. A 7.6 magnitude earthquake in 2005 killed thousands of people in Pakistan and Kashmir.

Last year in southeastern Afghanistan, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck a rugged mountainous region, flattening stone and mud-brick houses. Taliban leaders in Afghanistan put the total death toll from the quake at 1,150, with hundreds more injured, while the UN offered a lower estimate of 770.

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