PESHAWAR: A 7.1-magnitude earthquake jolted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fata, Gilgit-Baltistan, Punjab and Azad Kashmir on Sunday, killing five people and injuring over 55 others.
The epicentre of the quake was the Hindukush region in Afghanistan and its focal depth was 236km.
The media wing of Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar said 38 people with minor injuries were treated in the hospital’s emergency ward. Seven of the injured were women.
Five people killed, 55 injured
Provincial Disaster Management Authority spokesman Latifur Rehman said four people suffered injuries when the roof of their house in Doog Dara area of Upper Dir district collapsed.
According to officials, two people were killed and another was injured when the roof of their house in Shabqadar tehsil of Charsadda district caved in. The deceased were identified as Mohammad Ghani, owner of the house, and Majloob, a guest from Punjab.
A man was killed and three others were injured when boulders rolled down from a hill after the tremor and hit their car in Karaker area of Buner district.
In Swat, the wall of a house collapsed in Shamk village of Khawzakhela tehsil, leaving two children injured. They were taken to a hospital where one of them, identified as Emad, died.
Officials at the Saidu Sharif Teaching Hospital said that about 12 injured were brought to the hospital from different areas of Swat.
Three people, including a woman, were injured when walls of their houses in different areas of Lower Dir district collapsed.
They were taken to Timergara hospital.
At least five people, three children among them, were wounded in different areas of Bajaur Agency in quake-related incidents.
People in Peshawar, Balakot and Hazara ran out of their houses and apartments when the tremor struck.
The earthquake triggered landslides in Kohistan, Kaghan, Konsh and Siren valleys, but no casualty was reported.
The people of Shangla — where landslides wreaked havoc during recent rains — Kohat and southern areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa rushed to open areas after the quake hit the region.
In Gilgit-Baltistan, a young man was killed when a landslide caused by the earthquake hit him in Khinar area of Chilas in Diamer district. According to police, Mubarak, 21, suffered injuries in his head and died on the spot.
The earthquake triggered landslides in Ghizer, Nagar and other parts of the region, creating fear and panic among the people already battered by rains. They faced difficulty in contacting their loved ones in the absence of electricity and mobile communication.
In Punjab, the earthquake shook several cities and towns, including Lahore, terrifying people.
Strong jolts were felt in Gujranwala, Sialkot, Faisalabad, Lodhran, Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar and several other parts of the province, forcing people to run out of their houses or take refuge in staircases to protect themselves.
“Ceiling fans and furniture in my house were shaking and I dashed out with my family to save our lives,” Arshad Hussain, a resident of Gowalmandi in Lahore, said.
The National Seismic Monitoring Centre said the earthquake’s focal depth was 236km.
“The focal depth prevented the loss of life and property, otherwise the 7.1-magnitude earthquake could have been disastrous,” Lahore’s chief meteorologist Riaz Khan said.
Another redeeming factor was the faraway epicentre of the earthquake. “Two or three earthquakes emanate from the Hindukush region every year. They are deep and, therefore, cause less damage. They are felt as far as India and they certainly weaken structures,” he said.
The tremors were also felt in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, but no casualty or injury was reported.
About 73,000 people were killed when a 7.6-magnitude quake had struck Islamabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Kashmir on Oct 8, 2005. It left about 3.5 million people homeless.
In September 2013, a 7.7-magnitude quake had devastated several areas in Balochistan, killing at least 370 people and rendering about 100,000 people homeless.
Reuters adds: The earthquake shook buildings in Afghanistan and India, forcing residents to leave their homes.
The US Geological Survey said the 6.6-magnitude quake was centred about 40km 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 district. It was measured at a depth of 210km.
In Kabul, Omar Mohammadi, a spokesman for the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority, said officials were collecting information, but no reports of casualties or damage had been received so far.
Tremors were also felt in the Indian capital with some people working in high-rise buildings rushing into the streets. The Delhi underground system was also halted briefly, commuters told the NDTV channel.
Zulfiqar Ali in Peshawar, Jamil Nagri in Gilgit, Intikhab Hanif in Lahore and Ikram Junaidi in Islamabad contributed to the report
Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2016