Earth Quake Death-toll Rise to 165 and More Numbers Coming in, Scores Injured
A powerful earthquake struck Pakistan and Afghanistan on Monday, a reported magnitude of 7.5 on the richter scale, killed at least 165 people, officials confirm.
The death toll could climb in coming days because communications were down in much of the rugged Hindu Kush mountain range area where the quake was centred.
Reports of deaths had poured in from different areas of both countries by nightfall.
Reuters only, reported 140 deaths in Pakistan, most in northern and northwestern regions bordering Afghanistan.
Particularly hard-hit in Pakistan was Chitral, where 11 people were killed, police official Shah Jehan said, adding that the death toll was likely to rise because so many areas were cut off from communications.
The earthquake struck the country at 2:09pm today (Monday).
Forty minutes after the first earthquake, an aftershock of 4.8 magnitude was reported in the same area. Aftershocks are expected to continue in the affected areas and so far 10 have been reported of lesser magnitude.
While the magnitude of today’s earthquake is close to the devastating quake of 2005, the epicentre of the 2005 quake was shallow, causing more destruction, said analyst Faheem Zaman.
The earthquake in 2005 was at a depth of 26 km, while today’s earthquake was at a depth of 196 km.
Journalist Gul Hammad Farooqi, 47, said his house had collapsed. “I was thrown from one side of the road to the other by the strength of the earthquake. I’ve never experienced anything like it,” Farooqi said. “There is a great deal of destruction here, and my house has collapsed, but thankfully my children and I escaped.”
Further south, Peshawar had one death but at least 150 injured people were being treated at the city’s main hospital, the provincial health chief said.
Shockwaves were felt in northern India and in Pakistan, where hundreds of people ran out of buildings as the ground rolled beneath them. “We were very scared … We saw people leaving buildings, and we were remembering our God,” Pakistani journalist Zubair Khan said by telephone from the Swat Valley northwest of the capital, Islamabad. “I was in my car, and when I stopped my car, the car itself was shaking as if someone was pushing it back and forth.”
At least 194 injured were brought to Swat's Saidu Sharif Teaching Hospital, which does not have adequate medical facilities.
More than 100 wounded have been admitted to Peshawar's Lady Reading Hospital.
Tremors have been felt in major cities, including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Quetta, Kohat and Malakand.
Rescue 1122 has been put on high alert in Punjab. The disaster response force is on standby and a code red has been imposed, Director General Rescue Punjab Retd Brig Dr Ashraf Zia said. Rescue 1122 Spokesman Jam Sajjad said there were no reports of any deaths in Lahore.
Communication services have been disrupted in Islamabad, where walls swayed back and forth and people poured out of office buildings in a panic, reciting verses from the Holy Quran.
A building has also reportedly collapsed in Peshawar. Several mud huts collapsed in Balochistan's Zhob district.
Tremors were also felt in Kabul and New Delhi.
The full extent of the damage and the number of possible casualties is not yet known.
In one of the worst incidents, at least 12 girls were killed in a stampede to get out of their school in the northeastern Afghan province of Takhar.
“They fell under the feet of other students,” said Abdul Razaq Zinda, provincial head of the Afghan National Disaster Management Agency, who reported heavy damage in Takhar.
The quake was 213 km deep and centred 254 km northeast of Kabul in Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province.
7.5 magnitude earthquake strikes 67km from Chitral
The US Geological Survey initially measured the quake’s intensity at 7.7 then revised it down to 7.5. Just over a decade ago, a 7.6 magnitude quake in another part of northern Pakistan killed about 75,000 people.
Vineet Gahlot, the director of seismology at the Indian Meteorological Department, said the earthquake had a magnitude of 7.7 and an epicentre deep in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. Pakistan state TV reported the same magnitude.
The Pakistan Meteorological Department, however, said the magnitude of the earthquake was 8.1.
The quake was 196km deep and centred 82km southeast of Feyzabad in a remote area of Afghanistan in the Hindu Kush mountain range.
According to USGS, the epicentre is 67km from Chitral.
In Afghanistan, a total of 24 were reported dead on Monday including the 12 schoolgirls, seven people in the eastern province of Nangarhar, two in Nuristan province in the northeast and three in eastern Kunar province, officials said.
In Afghanistan, international aid agencies working in northern areas reported that cell phone coverage in the affected
areas remained down in the hours after the initial quake. “The problem is we just don’t know. A lot of the phone lines are still down,” said Scott Anderson, deputy head of office for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Kabul.
Badakhshan provincial governor Shah Waliullah Adib sai about 400 houses were destroyed but he had no figures on casualties.
“Right now we are collecting information,” he said.
The earthquake struck almost exactly six months after Nepal suffered its worst quake on record, on April 25. Including the toll from a major aftershock in May, 9,000 people lost their lives and 900,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. The mountainous region is seismically active, with earthquakes the result of the Indian subcontinent driving into and under the Eurasian landmass. Sudden tectonic shifts can cause enormous and destructive releases of energy.
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