At least 13 people have been killed, with the death toll expected to rise after a powerful earthquake shook much of Afghanistan and Pakistan overnight.
The US Geological Survey said the epicentre of the magnitude 6.5 quake was 40 kilometres (25 miles) south-southeast of Jurm in Afghanistan’s mountainous Hindukush region, bordering Pakistan and Tajikistan. The quake struck 188 kilometres deep below the Earth’s surface, causing it to be felt over a wide area.
Bilal Faizi, a spokesman for Pakistan’s emergency services, told The Associated Press more than 200 people were brought to hospitals in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in a state of shock.
“These terrified people collapsed, and some of them collapsed because of the shock of the earthquake,” he said. Mr Faizi said most were later discharged from the hospital.
Officials said nine people were killed when roofs collapsed in various parts of northwestern Pakistan. Dozens of others were injured in the quake, which was felt as far as bordering Tajikistan. The nine people who died in northwest Pakistan included five men, two women and two children.
Taimoor Khan, a spokesman for the provincial disaster management authority in the northwest, said at least 19 mudbrick homes collapsed in remote areas, and the earthquake had triggered landslides in some the mountainous areas. “We are still collecting data about the damages,” he said.
The powerful tremors sent many people fleeing their homes and offices in Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad, some reciting verses from the Quran, Islam’s holy book. Local media reports suggested cracks had appeared in some apartment buildings in the city.
In Afghanistan, Sharafat Zaman Amar, the Taliban’s appointed spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, said at least two people had died and around 20 others were injured.
“Unfortunately, there could be more casualties as the quake was so powerful," he said. CNN reports the death toll for the region has risen to four.
The region is prone to violent seismic upheavals. A magnitude 7.6 quake in 2005 killed thousands of people in Pakistan and Kashmir.
Last year in southeastern Afghanistan, a 6.1 magnitude quake struck a rugged, mountainous region, flattening stone and mud-brick homes. Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers put the total death toll from the quake at 1,150, with hundreds more injured, while the UN has offered a lower estimate of 770.