Earthquake in Pakistan and Afghanistan kills at least 12 people

Islamabad: At least 12 people have been killed and scores others were injured after a powerful earthquake shook large parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The 6.5-magnitude quake damaged buildings, triggered landslides and sent people running into the streets.

It struck on March 21 evening, centered in a mountainous region in Afghanistan’s north-east near the border with Pakistan. Tremors from the remote Jurm valley were felt as far as India.

In a statement, the Disaster Management Authority in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said five men, two women and two children were killed in the Pakistani province. At least 21 women, 19 men and seven children were also injured and admitted to different hospitals for treatment, the Authority added.

Ensuing landslides have also blocked roads in the city of Abbottabad as well as the Karakoram Highway in the Harban area of Kohistan. Major Pakistani cities, including Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Lahore, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Muzaffarabad, Peshawar, Haripur, Mardan, Chitral, Charsadda, also felt the quake.

Videos from Islamabad show panic-stricken people, especially those living in high-rises, rushing out of their homes, reports Dawn news. According to initial reports, cracks appeared in the Al-Janaat Mall in Rawalpindi and buildings in Islamabad.

Following the earthquake, emergency response centeers were established and an emergency was declared in hospitals in northwest Pakistan. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif ordered the National Disaster Management Authority and other institutions to be ready to deal with any emergency.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan, two people died in the Takhar province and a third fatality was reported in Laghman. Spokesman for the Public Health Ministry Sharafat Zaman Amar said that at least 44 people were also injured, adding that the number of casualties might increase as search and rescue operations are currently underway.

Acting Interior Minister Sarajudin Haqqani has instructed concerned bodies to provide humanitarian aid to the affected families. The tremors were also felt strongly across north India, from Kashmir to Delhi-NCR and reports poured in on social media about people reporting fans and appliances swaying, while many ran out of their houses.

There were no reports of any casualties or injuries in India. Earthquakes are more likely in this region because it lies at the juncture of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. In June last year more than 1,000 people were killed after a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck Afghanistan’s Paktika province, the country’s deadliest in nearly a quarter of a century.

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