A powerful earthquake, magnitude 7.5, has struck north-east of Afghanistan resulting in the deaths of over 50 people in the remote provinces of Afghanistan and a further 187 in neighboring northern Pakistan. The aftershocks of the quake were felt as far as New Delhi, and officials expect the death toll to rise significantly as the epicentre of the quake is in the extremely remote Hindu Kush mountain range where communications have been down in the aftermath of the quake. The lack of communications has also made it difficult for international aid agencies to assess the situation.
In one of the most devastating incidents, 12 school girls were killed as they evacuated their crumbling school in Takhar province. “They fell under the feet of other students,” said Abdul Razaq Zinda, provincial head of the Afghan National Disaster Management Agency, who reported heavy damage in the region. There was widespread panic in several cities in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan as the tremors following the quake shook buildings and train services were halted in New Delhi. Homes and businesses have been destroyed in northern Pakistan, with hundreds wounded and 5 dead, as buildings collapsed on them in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Authorities in Pakistan have warned residents in the affected areas that vigilant aftershocks and tremors are still to come in the next 36 hours — aftershock magnitudes of 4.7 and 4.8 had been felt two hours following the quake.
In 2005, an earthquake in neighboring northern Pakistan resulted in over 75,000 casualties, and the recent earthquake follows another devastating earthquake just six months ago in neighboring Nepal that killed almost 10,000 people. The 2005 earthquake was extremely shallow compared to the depth of the recent earthquake (229 km). This has led some to observe that the aftermath of this earthquake will not be as devastating as the 2005 quake, as deeper earthquakes typically cause less damage.
The international community has responded swiftly with the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, tweeting — ‘”Heard about strong earthquake in Afghanistan-Pakistan region whose tremors have been felt in parts of India. I pray for everyone’s safety.”
Written by Sahra Magan