Two die in K-P as strong tremors jolt upcountry

Scores of others injured in 6.8 quake; NDMA, PDMAs put on alert; two more people killed in neighbouring Afghanistan


Our Correspondent March 21, 2023
A Rescue 1122 official speaking on his mobile phone in Swat after a 6.8 magnitude earthquake jolted most parts on Pakistan on March 21, 2023. PHOTO: EXPRESS

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PESHAWAR:

A strong earthquake jolted many parts of the country, killing at least two people, including a child, and injuring dozens others in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab on Tuesday evening.

The magnitude of earthquake was recorded at 6.8 on the Richter scale with its epicentre in Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan at a depth of 180 kilometres, according to Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD).

The United States Geological Survey put the magnitude of the earthquake at 6.5, which was centred near Jurm in northeastern Afghanistan at a depth of 187 kilometres. The USGS said that the tremors were also felt in Afghanistan and India for 30 seconds.

Reports from different parts of the country said tremors were felt in several cities, including Islamabad, Peshawar, Charsadda, Lahore, and Rawalpindi. After the earthquake, frightened people fled their homes and came out in the open.

“People ran out of their houses and were reciting the Quran,” said an AFP correspondent in Rawalpindi. Ikhlaq Kazmi, a retired professor, said his entire house shook. “The children started shouting that there is an earthquake,” he said. “We all ran out.”

At least 180 people, who suffered minor injuries, were taken to hospitals across the K-P, Shahidullah Khan, a senior government official, told AFP. K-P’s Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) confirmed two fatalities in the province.
Police officer Shafiullah Gandapur in Swat said that a 13-year-old girl died when a wall of her house collapsed, while 150 people were injured across the district.

He added that emergency had been declared at the hospitals in the district.

Other reports from the province said that at least five members of a family were injured after the roof of their house collapsed in Swabi and 29 people, including women and children, were injured in Malakand divison and other areas.

The PDMA in Punjab said that more than 18 districts were jolted but no loss of life was reported. However, a PDMA spokesperson said that cracks had appeared in some high-rise buildings in Rawalpindi.

“Rescue teams have been dispatched to evacuate the affected buildings,” the spokesperson said, adding that orders had been issued to the administrations across Punjab to check other high-rise buildings for any damage.

Tremors were felt in Manjhipur, Dera Allahyar and Jafarabad areas of Balochistan, PDMA said. It put the administrations on alert and directed for taking precautionary measures in all hospitals to deal with any emergency.

In the Azad Jammu and Kashmir capital of Muzaffarabad – the site of a deadly earthquake in 2005 that killed more than 80,000 people – people ran out of their homes, crying and reciting holy verses, according to a Reuters report.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and other relevant institutions to stay alert to deal with any untoward situation.

An emergency has been declared in the hospitals of the federal capital, including the Islamabad Polyclinic and the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) Hospital, officials said.

According to the international seismological centre, apart from Pakistan, tremors were also felt in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, China, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan. Shaking was also felt as far as the Indian capital, New Delhi.

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said that the 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck northern Afghanistan, adding that the tremor was very deep, 194 kilometres, and its epicentre was in the Hindu Kush mountain range, near Badakhshan.

Two people, including a child, were killed in Laghman province of Afghanistan, Shafiullah Rahimi, spokesman for Afghanistan's Ministry of Natural Disaster Management, told AFP.

In Afghanistan, many families were out of their homes celebrating Nowruz, the Persian New Year, when the quake struck. “I heard people screaming and yelling as they came out in the streets,” said Masieh, who was outside with his family when the tremor hit.

“It was a terrifying tremor. I had never felt such a tremor before in my life,” Khatera, 50, a resident of Kabul, told AFP. “Nobody dares to go inside their homes,” added Noor Mohammad Hanifi, a shopkeeper in the capital.

Authorities and aid workers said very strong shaking was felt in Badakhshan, close to the epicentre of the earthquake. A spokesperson for Red Cross said they had no immediate reports of damages from Badakhshan’s capital but were making checks on other areas.

Separately, a 5.9 earthquake struck Valparaiso, Chile, on Tuesday, the EMSC said. The quake was at a depth of 44 kilometres below the earth’s surface, it added. There were no reports of any casualties or damage immediately.

(WITH INPUT FROM AGENCIES)

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