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Tremors in Delhi as quake shakes Pak, Afghanistan; 6 dead

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.6 struck South Asia on Sunday, shaking buildings and sparking panic in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, witnesses and the US Geological Survey (USGS) said, although there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

india Updated: Apr 11, 2016 23:54 IST
Kashmiri men walk near a house damaged by an earthquake in Srinagar.
Kashmiri men walk near a house damaged by an earthquake in Srinagar.(Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)

Six people were killed and dozens injured when an earthquake of magnitude 6.6 struck South Asia on Sunday, shaking buildings and sparking panic in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, witnesses said.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake was centred about 40km west of Ashkasham in remote northeastern Afghanistan, close to the border with Tajikistan and just across a narrow finger of land from Pakistan’s northwestern Chitral province. It was measured at a depth of 210km.

With buildings shaking, residents left their homes in Delhi, Kabul and Islamabad when the quake struck. Similar reports were received from across northern and central Pakistan and the northern Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, among others.

An official of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said that at least six persons were killed.

Five people died in KP province, while one died in Diamer area of Gilgit-Baltistan region, he said, adding 28 people were reported injured in the provincial capital Peshawar.

In the Indian capital, metro rail services were temporarily halted around 4pm. People ran out of their homes and assembled in open areas. Many localities in J-K reported power outage.

In Islamabad, terrified residents fled their homes and offices as buildings swayed for well over a minute. Television footage showed people praying in public.

“I am still very terrified,” said Sahiba Bibi of Islamabad.

Ahmad Kamal, an NDMA spokesperson, said post-quake landslides were a potential threat, and added he had asked regional authorities to prepare for all possible contingencies.

In Pakistan’s northwestern frontier city of Peshawar, Khalid Khan, emergency director at Lady Reading Hospital, said three people were treated for “multiple injuries”. Media pictures showed two children who appeared to have been injured in the quake.

Why Hindu Kush

The Hindu Kush area bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan is a seismically-active area, with quakes often felt across the region.

Read: Indian-origin researcher led team finds new way to predict quakes

Strong tremors felt in Delhi, Kashmir after 6.6-earthquake in Afghanistan-Pakistan border

According to the USGS, the Indian subcontinent moves northward at the latitude of Sunday’s earthquake and collides with Eurasia at a velocity of about 37mm a year.

Vineet Kumar Gahalaut, a seismologist at the National Geographic Research Institute, said the tremors were triggered by a collision of Indian tectonic plate with the Eurasian tectonic plate.

“I call them friendly earthquake, they don’t disturb too much,” he said.

Quakes from the past

In December 2015, tremors were felt in northern India after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck northeast Afghanistan around midnight near the country’s borders with Pakistan and Tajikistan.

An earthquake of 5.9 magnitude with epicentre in the Hindu Kush region struck Afghanistan in November.

In October, a 7.5-magnitude quake ripped across Pakistan and Afghanistan, killing almost 400 people and flattening buildings in rugged terrain that impeded relief efforts.

For many in Pakistan, October’s quake brought back traumatic memories of a 7.6-magnitude quake that struck in October 2005, killing more than 75,000 people and displacing some 3.5 million.

In Nepal, a quake in April 2015 and a strong aftershock in May killed more than 8,900 people.

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