A massive earthquake, measuring 7.5 on Richter scale and with its epicentre in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush mountain range, on Monday afternoon killed at least 135 people, according to reports till the evening.
The toll includes most deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but tremors were also felt in India many of its cities. It is feared that the number of the dead could go up in the next few days.
In Pakistan alone, over 100 deaths were reported by early Monday evening, most in the northern and northwestern regions bordering Afghanistan.
Tremors lasting several seconds were also felt in New Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Shimla, Srinagar, Chandigarh and Pakistani cities of Karachi and Islamabad, and Afghan capital Kabul. Phone lines went down in Srinagar due to earthquake.
In New Delhi, people came out of their offices and homes while Delhi Metro was stopped for a while.
The tremors in New Delhi, Noida and Gurgaon were felt between 2.40 pm and 2.5o pm, and almost immediately many people posted on twitter pictures of cracks that developed in their houses due to the earthquake.
According to the US Geological Survey, the quake was 213 km deep and centered 254 km northeast of Kabul in Badakhshan province. The organisation initially measured the magnitude at 7.7, but later revised it to 7.5.
In Afghanistan’s Takhar province at least 12 schoolgirls died in a stampede at their school when they tried to run out as a major quake struck, reports said.
The panic-stricken girls were killed while trying to flee the school building, the Independent reported.
Four people were killed in the Bajaur tribal region near the Afghanistan border after buildings collapsed in the area, Dawn reported.
A child was killed in Kallar Kahar area of Chakwal district in Punjab, one woman was killed in Sargodha and 10 others injured in a wall collapse and one in Kasur district when a house roof collapsed while six people were killed in Swat Valley, it added.
The quake was felt in most of the northern parts of Pakistan including such major cities as Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Sargoda and Kohat and as far south as Multan, officials said.
Nearly 200 injured were brought to Swat’s Saidu Sharif Teaching Hospital, while over 100 injured admitted to Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, said Dawn.
Tremors rocked Jammu and Kashmir has caused huge damage to property across the Valley while there were no reports of casualties so far.
Cracks appeared in most multi-storeyed public and private buildings and a flyovers while there were reports of major damage to dozens of government and private buildings in Badgam, Anantnag, Baramulla, Pulwama, Kulgam, Kupwara, Bandipora and Ganderbal districts in Jammu and Kashmir.
People in the entire Valley abandoned offices, business places and homes and ran out into the open in order to avoid being caught in building collapses. Traffic came to abrupt halt in the Valley as vehicles started swinging on shaking roads during the tremor.
“It was terrifying, reminded us of the earlier earthquake. Hope there are no aftershocks,” said a Srinagar resident.
Vineet Gahlot, director of seismology at the Indian Meteorological Department, said the earthquake had a magnitude of 7.7. But that was before the US Geological Survey revised the measurement to 7.5.
Pakistan state TV reported tremors made walls sway back and forth and people poured out of office buildings in panic in capital Islamabad.
A little over 10 years ago, a 7.6 magnitude quake in another part of northern Pakistan had killed about 75,000 people.