At least 11 dead in quake in Pakistan and Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD. On Tuesday, a 6.5-magnitude earthquake rocked much of Pakistan and Afghanistan, causing residents to flee their homes and offices in panic and frightening people in remote villages. At least nine people have died in Pakistan and two in Afghanistan, officials said on Wednesday.

More than 200 people have been taken to hospitals in Swat and elsewhere in Pakistan’s northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in a state of shock, Pakistani emergency services spokesman Bilal Faizi said.

“These terrified people collapsed, and some of them collapsed due to the impact of the earthquake,” he said. Faizi said most of them were later released from the hospital.

Faizi and other officials said nine people had died as a result of roof collapses in various parts of northwestern Pakistan. Dozens of others were injured in the earthquake, which struck Afghanistan and was also felt along the border with Tajikistan. The earthquake triggered landslides in some mountainous areas, disrupting traffic.

Among the nine people who died in northwest Pakistan were five men, two women and two children.

Taimoor Khan, a spokesman for the provincial disaster management authority for the northwest, said at least 19 mud-brick houses had collapsed in outlying areas. “We are still gathering damage data,” he said.

Due to the strong tremors, many people fled their homes and offices in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, some of them reciting verses from the Quran, Islam’s holy book. According to media reports, cracks appeared in some apartment buildings in the city.

In Afghanistan, Sharafat Zaman Amar, a Taliban-appointed health ministry spokesman, said at least two people had died and about 20 were injured.

“Unfortunately, there could have been more casualties as the earthquake was very strong in most of the country,” said Zaman Amar.

The scene was repeated in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan.

“The earthquake was so strong and terrifying that we thought that houses were collapsing on us, all the people were screaming and were shocked,” said Shafiullah Azimi, a resident of Kabul.

Aziz Ahmad, 45, another Kabul resident, said he and his neighbors stayed home for hours for fear of tremors.

“For the first time in my life I experienced such a strong earthquake, everyone was terrified,” he said.

The USGS said the magnitude 6.5 quake was located 25 miles south-southeast of Yurma in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush mountainous region bordering Pakistan and Tajikistan. The quake occurred 116 miles below the surface of the Earth, causing it to be felt over a wide area.

Khurram Shahzad, a resident of the Pakistani garrison town of Rawalpindi, said he was having lunch with his family at a restaurant when the walls began to sway.

“I quickly thought it was a big one and we left the restaurant and walked out,” he said over the phone. He said he saw hundreds of people standing in the streets.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said in a statement that he had asked disaster management officials to remain vigilant to deal with any situation.

The area is subject to strong seismic shocks. A magnitude 7.6 earthquake in 2005 killed thousands of people in Pakistan and Kashmir.

Last year, in southeastern Afghanistan, a powerful earthquake hit a rugged mountainous region, flattening stone and adobe houses. The Afghan Taliban rulers put the total death toll from the quake at 1,150, with hundreds injured, while the UN offered a lower estimate of 770.

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