Hours after the temblor early on Tuesday, a top police official said initial reports trickling in from villages near the epicentre suggested there was little serious damage.

 

In one district, the authorities sent a man on horseback to check on an isolated mountain valley, he said.

The US Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.7 quake was centred in the remote Hindu Kush mountains of northeastern Afghanistan. It struck shortly before 2.30am (2200GMT).

The quake - centred about 95km southeast of Faizabad, capital of the sparsely populated Badakhshan province - was felt more than 320km away in Islamabad, Pakistan, and in Kabul, where the shaking lasted several seconds.

"It was a strong earthquake," said provincial police chief Shah Jahan Noori. He said there were unconfirmed reports of damaged homes in the Shahri Buzurg district to the northwest, but no casualties.

After hours of making contact with officials in far-flung mountain districts, Noori said he had no reports of casualties or severe damage.

Cracked walls

He said some walls in a district near the epicentre in the south of the province were cracked.

Landslides have hampered relief
efforts in the Muzaffarabad area

Shafiq, a radio operator for the UN World Food Programme in Faizabad, said he had been in contact with eight districts in the area, including Shahri Buzurg, and was told there was no damage.

Badakhshan governor Abdul Majid said the ground shook for two minutes in Faizabad.

The area lies about 320km from the centre of the 8 October quake that killed about 87,000 people in northern Pakistan and Indian Kashmir.

Salim Akhtar, an official at the Peshawar earthquake centre, said he did not consider it an aftershock of the October quake.

In hard-hit Pakistani Kashmir, survivors of the October quake came out of their tents and homes and spent hours in the pre-dawn cold, said Dilawar Mir, an official at the Meteorological Department there.

Landslides

Pakistani television stations reported landslides near the town of Bagh.

Residents in Chitral, the closest Pakistani town from the epicentre of Tuesday's temblor, said they had seen no damage, but had been scared out of their homes by the strong jolt.

The quake also caused brief panic in Indian Kashmir, where hundreds rushed out from their homes.

A magnitude 6 quake can cause severe damage. But Amir Shahzad, an official at Pakistan's Meteorological Department, said the quake might not have caused much damage because it occurred deep underground.

The US Geological Survey said its recorded depth was nearly 230km.

Stampede


Aljazeera's Pakistan bureau chief, Ahmad Zaidan, reporting from Islam Abad, said Pakistani officials had indicated that there were no major casualties, but some roads were badly affected.

 

"We have not received reports of any damage or casualties, and we don't think there will be any either"

Amir Shahzad, Pakistan Meteorological Department

Landslides have closed some roads which is hampering relief efforts in the area, he said.

In Peshawar there were reports of light injuries after panic-stricken residents fled their homes and buildings. "People were injured during a stampede," he said.

People living in Islamabad and Rawalpindi apartment blocks were also concerned about the possibility of another massive earthquake.