An earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale with its epicentre in Afghanistan shook parts of north India, causing widespread panic.
Hundreds of thousands of people rushed out of their houses and offices in parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana.
The tremors, around 2.40 pm, were distinctly felt for 30-40 seconds, shaking high-rise buildings all across the region.
Two women died of cardiac arrest after the earthquake in Baramulla and Anantnag districts of Jammu and Kashmir, said a police spokesman in Srinagar. The deceased were identified as Zoona Begum (65) of Mir Sahab Bala in Baramulla and Fatima (80) of Ahanger Mohalla in Bijbehara.
Two army personnel were injured when their bunker collapsed in Sopore, 55km from Srinagar, in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
According to reports, some buildings were damaged in Rajouri district and a wall of the historic Bheem Garh Fort in Reasi town also caved in. Two wards of the Rajouri district hospital also suffered minor damages.
Some multi-storey government and private buildings in Srinagar also suffered cracks. Reports suggest some buildings were damaged in the Budhal area of Rajouri district. A traffic flyover in Srinagar also developed minor cracks.
In Haryana’s Karnal, people rushed out of their houses to safer places. A ceiling of an old residential structure collapsed in the Sadar Bazaar locality of Karnal.
In Shimla also, people came out of their houses. In Kullu, a press conference of Himachal transport minister GS Bali was disrupted when tremors were felt as all present rushed out of venue in panic.
Tremors were also felt in Punjab, but there are no reports of loss of life and property.
(With inputs from agencies)