KARACHI: A magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck southwestern Pakistan, the US Geological Survey reported early Wednesday morning.
Residents of cities as far as far apart as New Delhi and Dubai, but doing little damage to the sparsely populated region.
The earthquake hit Karachi, Hyderabad, Quetta, Jaffarabad, while tremors were felt in Lahore and Sargodha.
The quake was more than 80 km (50 miles) underground, close to the town of Dalbandin in Balochistan province, near the Afghan and Iranian frontiers, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.
Akbar Durrani, interior secretary of Balochistan province, said there were no reports of casualties. “There has been partial damage to house in villages near Dalbandin but there were no casualties,” he told Reuters.
Naeem Shah, head of Dalbandin police, said he had no reports of any injuries or deaths. “There were no human losses,” Shah said. “The walls of a few houses and offices collapsed but there are no reports of any casualties.”
The US agency revised an initial estimate that the quake was very shallow ranging at 7.4, and said it probably centred at a depth of 52 miles (83 km), 55 km (34 miles) west of Dalbandin, a town of about 15,000 people.
Poor communications delayed reports from the remote area but despite the strength of the shock, its depth seems to have limited damage. The USGS had first said the earthquake was much shallower.
Residents in major cities as far apart as the Indian capital New Delhi and the Gulf emirate of Dubai said they felt tremors, as did people in Karachi, although there were no early reports there of damage or injuries.
In Quetta, 330 km (205 miles) northeast of the epicentre, a woman died at a hospital from a heart attack following the quake, hospital officials said. In Karachi, 400 km (250 miles) away, people rushed from their homes as the quake hit.
“I felt like my bed was shaking. I got up and ran to check the children,” said Masooma Rizvi. “It was very scary. I have never felt anything like this before.”
The Pacific Tsunami Center said the quake had not triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean.
A major quake of this magnitude is capable of causing widespread and heavy damage.
The distance of the epicentre to known locations is:
55 km (34 miles) W (271°) from Dalbandin, Pakistan
263 km (164 miles) W (269°) from Kalat, Pakistan
301 km (187 miles) ESE (102°) from Zahedan, Iran
793 km (493 miles) NE (41°) from MUSCAT, Oman
On October 8, 2005, a 7.6 magnitude quake 95 km northeast of Islamabad killed over 70,000 people.
A major quake of this magnitude, if at a shallow depth and close to population centres, is capable of causing widespread and heavy damage and could pose fresh strains on Pakistan following the devastating floods last year which left more than 10 million people homeless.