Islamabad- A strong 6.8 magnitude earthquake with the epicentre in Afghanistan shook Pakistan, killing at least 12 people and injuring nearly 250 others in both the countries, authorities said on Wednesday.
The earthquake’s epicentre was Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush region, while its depth was 180 kilometres, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department. Tremors were also felt in many parts of north India, including the Delhi-National Capital Region.
In Pakistan, earthquake tremors were felt in Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Quetta, Peshawar, Kohat, Lakki Marwat, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sialkot, Kot Momin, Madh Ranjha, Chakwal, Kohat and Gilgit-Baltistan areas.
Television footage showed panic-stricken citizens out on the streets.
The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) in Peshawar in a tweet said that nine persons, including five men, two women and two children were killed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, bordering Afghanistan.
Two persons – a man in Islamabad and a 13-year-old girl in Abbottabad – lost their lives due to sudden cardiac arrest after the quake, Dawn newspaper reported.
At the time of the earthquake, a stampede was reported in the markets of Rawalpindi, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.
Nearly 200 people were injured in Swat, where hospitals had declared a state of emergency.
The earthquake also jolted the mountainous region of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), where the resultant landslides created fear. However, no loss of life was immediately reported.
Rescue officials said landslides damaged a cattle farm in Yasin Ghizer, resulting in the death of livestock.
Sources said landslides blocked the Karakoram Highway in the Harban area of Kohistan near the border with GB’s Diamer district, stranding several people on both sides.
In Islamabad and the neighbouring city of Rawalpindi, cracks appeared in various buildings.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has asked disaster management officials to remain vigilant to handle any situation.
An emergency was declared in the hospitals of the federal capital on the instructions of Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.
According to the Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan, at least three people were killed and 44 others were injured in the quake.
“There could be more casualties,” The Khaama Press – an online Afghan news agency, quoted a spokesperson for the public health ministry as saying.
Sharafat Zaman Amerkhail, another spokesman for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health, said that the heads of all medical centres had been instructed to prepare staff for possible casualties from the earthquake.
According to the international seismological centre, apart from Pakistan and India, tremors were also felt in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, China and Kyrgyzstan.
Pakistan is located in an active seismic zone and quakes of various intensities often hit the country.
A 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck Islamabad in January this year.
The deadliest quake to hit Pakistan in 2005 killed more than 74,000 people.
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