At least 13 dead after earthquake jolts Afghanistan, Pakistan

Tremors of the magnitude 6.5 quake were felt as far as the Indian capital New Delhi.

People come out of a restaurant in Lahore
People come out of a restaurant after a tremor was felt in Lahore, Pakistan [Akhtar Soomro/Reuters]

At least 13 people have been killed and hundreds injured after a magnitude 6.5 earthquake hit areas across Afghanistan and Pakistan, with tremors felt as far as the Indian capital New Delhi.

In northwest Pakistan, at least nine people were killed and 44 injured, a government official said on Wednesday. Hospitals in northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province were put into a state of emergency overnight.

In Afghanistan, at least four people were killed and 50 wounded, a health ministry official told the Reuters news agency.

The earthquake’s epicentre was 40km (25 miles) southeast of the Afghan town of Jurm, near the borders with Pakistan and Tajikistan, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said on Tuesday.

The quake was felt over an area more than 1,000km (621 miles) wide by some 285 million people in Pakistan, India, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre said.

Pakistan’s Meteorological Department put the magnitude slightly higher at 6.8 and later reported a 3.7 magnitude aftershock in the Hindu Kush region along the country’s border with Afghanistan.

Bilal Faizi, a spokesperson for Pakistan’s Rescue 1122 service in the northwest of the country, and other officials told the Associated Press news agency that nine people were killed when roofs collapsed in various parts of northwestern Pakistan.

“A 10-year-old girl in Swat and a 24-year-old man in Lower Dir died when the walls of their [respective] houses collapsed,” Faizi told Al Jazeera.

According to Faizi, landslides have caused damage in the Swat district, 180km (112 miles) northwest of the capital Islamabad.

“More than 20 buildings have suffered damages due to the jolts and scores of people have been injured,” he said.

Hospitals in the Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province treated at least 250 patients, 15 of whom suffered minor injuries and more than 200 were unconscious. Fifty-two people were injured in other parts of the province, officials said.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif asked the country’s disaster management officials to remain vigilant in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Tremors felt in Kabul

The tremor was felt in the Afghan capital, Kabul, as well as a number of Pakistani cities, including Islamabad and Lahore.

Sarah Hasan, a resident of Islamabad, told Al Jazeera the walls of her house vibrated as the earthquake hit the Pakistani capital.

“It started off slowly and then became strong,” the 43-year-old said.

“The house was vibrating, things were shaking. It started slowing down and after a few minutes, it felt like everything is calm again.”

Witnesses also reported feeling the shaking in Indian-administered Kashmir. There, people rushed out of their homes in fear as they recalled two devastating earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria last month, killing more than 50,000 people.

“We were sitting in our home when we saw everything around us shaking. Initially, it was not very powerful but when we rushed outside, we saw everyone in the street crying,” Muhammad Yasin, a resident of the main city of Srinagar, told Al Jazeera.

“The images of the devastation from Turkey and Syria are still fresh [in our eyes]. For a moment, we felt it is the end of our world,” he said.

More than 1,000 people were killed last year after a magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit eastern Afghanistan. In 2005, at least 73,000 people were killed by a 7.6 magnitude quake that struck northern Pakistan.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies