PESHAWAR: The number of deaths in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from Tuesday’s powerful earthquake has reached 10, including three women and two children, while at least 62 others have been injured.
At least four deaths have also been reported from Afghanistan, whose north-eastern region was the epicentre.
According to a detailed report shared by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) on Wednesday, three people each from Swat and Bajaur districts, two from Lower Dir, and one each from Abbottabad and Khyber district lost their lives.
The report said 10 houses were destroyed, whereas 63 buildings, including houses and schools, were partially damaged.
“Rescue activities are underway, and the district administration has been asked to assess the losses,” PDMA spokesman Taimur Khan said, adding that the authority was in contact with the district administration and would share updates with the media.
The United States Geological Survey said the magnitude 6.5 quake was centred near Jurm in north-eastern Afghanistan. Pakistan’s Met department said the quake’s size was 6.8. Magnitudes can differ slightly due to different scales.
An earthquake of this size can cause severe damage. However, as it was relatively deep at 187 kilometres, the region appeared to have dodged the mass casualties usually associated with a tremor of such scale.
The earthquake was primarily felt in northern parts of Pakistan, including Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Muzaffarabad, Peshawar, Haripur, Mardan, Chitral, Charsadda and others.
In Dir, a 20-year-old girl jumped from the second floor of a girls’ nursing hostel in Timergara and got injured. She was shifted to the district headquarters hospital.
In Swat, many people, including students at different hostels, fainted and were rushed to hospitals. Almost all were later discharged after first aid.
Swat’s deputy commissioner, Irfanullah, said more than 100 people who went unconscious due to fear of the severe tremors were also brought to the trauma centre at the Saidu Teaching Hospital. Locals and tourists were stranded after landslides blocked the Madyan-Kalam road, which was later cleared.
In Shangla, the district administration issued a report stating that three people sustained injuries during the earthquake. They were brought from different areas to the district headquarters hospital.
KP’s caretaker minister for relief, rehabilitation and settlement, Taj Muhammad Afridi, said rescue activities were underway in the affected areas and an emergency operation centre was established to collect information about the damages.
Meanwhile, the PDMA has issued a letter to all district administrations to immediately compensate the families of those who died or were injured in the earthquake.
“It was a powerful earthquake and we feared maximum damage due to the intensity — that’s why we issued an alert,” Bilal Faizi, a spokesman for KP’s Rescue 1122 service, told AFP.
“But fortunately, our fears proved wrong. Residents panicked due to the magnitude of the earthquake, but the damage was minimal,” he said.
Depth is a key factor in determining how damaging an earthquake will be. The closer to the surface an earthquake starts, the more ground shaking and potential damage it will cause. Two different earthquakes of the same magnitude can result in vastly different damage and deaths depending on the depth. Shallow quakes, at depths of less than 70km, are the ones that have broader damage.
Large parts of South Asia are seismically active because a tectonic plate known as the Indian plate is pushing north into the Eurasian plate. A 6.1 magnitude earthquake in eastern Afghanistan killed more than 1,000 people last year.
Fazal Khaliq from Swat, Haleem Asad from Dir, Anwarullah Khan from Bajaur, and Umar Bacha from Shangla also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2023
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