Quake in Hindu Kush leaves 70 dead, hundreds injured

26 Oct 2015


A powerful earthquake of 7.5 magnitude that hit the Hindu Kush area in the North West Frontier Province and felt across Afghanistan, Pakistan and parts of northern India today, killed at least 70 people, including 12 Afghan schoolgirls, who were crushed in a stampede while trying to flee a collapsing school.

At least 52 people, including eight children, have died in Pakistan. The powerful quake also left hundreds injured in the mountainous Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The quake, which also shook North India with tremors that lasted almost a minute, was 196 km (120 miles) deep and centered 82 km southeast of Feyzabad, in a remote area of Afghanistan in the Hindu Kush mountain range.

The earthquake's epicentre was near Jurm in northeast Afghanistan, 250 km from capital Kabul, and a few hundred kilometres from the site of a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck in October 2005, killing more than 75,000 people and displacing some 3.5 million more.

In India, massive tremors were felt in Delhi, Kashmir, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Punjab.

The strong earthquake, lasting almost a minute, resulted in buildings shaking in the centre of the Indian capital.

Tremors were also felt as far away as Islamabad in Pakistan and the Afghan capital Kabul, but not in neighbouring Nepal, which was hit by a devastating earthquake in April.

People rushed out of shaking buildings and remained on the streets for some time, fearing aftershocks.

The Delhi Metro train service ground to a halt during the earthquake, although the airport continued to operate. Metro service resumed after some time, but the train services ran at slower speeds.

The quake damaged some bridges and buildings in Kashmir, according to police sources. "Some bridges and buildings got damaged. There are no reports of loss of life so far. Cell phone networks are down, we are using our wireless network to gather information," police dsources said.

The Srinagar flyover was closed to traffic, fearing cracks, but reopened later after no cracks were found during inspection.

"Heard about strong earthquake in Afghanistan-Pakistan region whose tremors have been felt in parts of India. I pray for everyone's safety," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted. Also, "I have asked for an urgent assessment and we stand ready for assistance where required, including Afghanistan and Pakistan."

At least one aftershock hit shortly after the quake, with the US Geological Survey putting its magnitude at 4.8.

Pakistanis took to social media to post reports of a "massive quake", Dawn reported.

It said the tremors were felt in major cities, including Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Kohat and Malakand.

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