Six people were feared dead after an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.6 struck South Asia on Sunday, shaking buildings and sparking panic in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, witnesses said.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake was centred about 40km (25 miles) west of Ashkasham in remote northeastern Afghanistan, close to the border with Tajikistan and just across a narrow finger of land from Pakistan’s northwestern Chitral province. It was measured at a depth of 210km (130 miles).
With buildings shaking, residents left their homes in Delhi, Kabul and Islamabad when the quake struck. Similar reports were received from across northern and central Pakistan and the northern Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, among others.
A Pakistani official said at least one person was killed in the Buner area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
In the Indian capital, metro rail services were temporarily halted around 4pm. People ran out of their homes and assembled in open areas. Many localities in J-K reported power outage.
In Islamabad, terrified residents fled their homes and offices as buildings swayed for well over a minute. Television footage showed people praying in public.
“I am still very terrified,” said Sahiba Bibi of Islamabad.
Ahmad Kamal, a spokesperson at Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority, said post-quake landslides were a potential threat, and added he had asked regional authorities to prepare for all possible contingencies.
In Pakistan’s northwestern frontier city of Peshawar, Khalid Khan, emergency director at Lady Reading Hospital, said three people were treated for “multiple injuries”. Media pictures showed two children who appeared to have been injured in the quake.
Why Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush area bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan is a seismically-active area, with quakes often felt across the region.
Strong tremors felt in Delhi, Kashmir after 6.6-earthquake in Afghanistan-Pakistan border
According to the USGS, the Indian subcontinent moves northward at the latitude of Sunday’s earthquake and collides with Eurasia at a velocity of about 37mm a year.
Vineet Kumar Gahalaut, a seismologist at the National Geographic Research Institute, said the tremors were triggered by a collision of Indian tectonic plate with the Eurasian tectonic plate.