NEW DELHI: A powerful earthquake of 7.5 magnitude centred in Afghanistan, has killed at least 100 people, including 12 Afghan schoolgirls who were crushed in a stampede as they tried to flee their collapsing school. The earthquake shook north India with tremors that lasted almost a minute.
At least 76 people, including eight children, have died in Pakistan.
The earthquake’s epicentre was near Jurm in northeast Afghanistan, 250 km from capital Kabul, and at a depth of 213.5 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said. This is just a few hundred kilometres from the site of a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck in October 2005, killing more than 75,000 people and displacing some 3.5 million more, although that earthquake was much shallower.
In India, massive tremors were felt in Delhi, Kashmir, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana and Punjab. Hundreds rushed out of shaking buildings and remained on the streets for some time, fearing aftershocks.
The Delhi Metro train service ground to a halt during the earthquake, although the airport continued operating. Metro service resumed after some time, but the trains ran slow.
A top police officer in Kashmir said, “Some bridges and buildings got damaged. There are no reports of loss of life so far. Cell phone networks are down, we are using our wireless network to gather information.” The Srinagar flyover was closed to traffic, fearing cracks. When none were found during inspection, it was reopened for traffic.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Heard about strong earthquake in Afghanistan-Pakistan region whose tremors have been felt in parts of India. I pray for everyone’s safety,” and also, “I have asked for an urgent assessment and we stand ready for assistance where required, including Afghanistan & Pakistan.”
At least one aftershock hit shortly after the quake, with the USGS putting its magnitude at 4.8.