ISLAMABAD: An earthquake of moderate intensity jolted Islamabad and some districts of the adjoining Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Thursday afternoon as there were no immediate reports of casualties or damages.

As per the Meteorological Department, the intensity of the earthquake was recorded at 5.3 on the Richter scale and it was reported from Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, and some other adjoining areas of these cities at 3.56pm.

The earthquake’s epicentre was at the Afghan-Tajikistan border area with the depth of 86 kilometers.

The Met Office said that besides the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the residents of Kohat, Lower Dir and Chitral districts also experienced tremors. Similar seismic activity was reported in Shangla, Buner, Malakand and Swat districts as well.

Deputy Director of the Research and Development (R&D) division of the Meteorological Department of Islamabad, Dr Muhammad Afzaal, told Dawn that fault line ruptures along the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border areas were a regular feature and as frequent as two to three times a day.

“Some earthquakes of low intensity of magnitude 3 and less on the Richter scale were only felt in those areas. Earthquakes measuring 5 and higher on the Richter scale could be felt across borders and as far as Pakistan, such as the ones experienced today (Thursday),” the senior official said.

The earthquake occurring along the Afghan-Tajikistan border areas was also deep, about 86 kilometers beneath the surface, which also made it of low intensity.

Drawn in comparison with the 2005 earthquake that wrecked havoc in Islamabad and adjoining cities, which was roughly 10 kilometers deep, the Met Department official explained that quakes occurring as deep as 100 kilometers to 150 kilometers beneath the surface of the earth were also less dangerous. The region was prone to earthquakes due to shifts in tectonic plates.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2024

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