At least 13 dead and nearly 300 injured after 6.5-magnitude earthquake jolts Pakistan and Afghanistan

At least 13 people are dead and nearly 300 injured after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck Afghanistan and Pakistan on Tuesday night.

Nine of the confirmed deaths were reported in the valley region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan where the temblor flattened and partially damaged several houses, a government official said.

The death toll rose to four in Afghanistan, the country’s health ministry spokesperson said on Wednesday morning, with a child among the fatalities.

The earthquake, the epicentre of which was in southeast Afghanistan’s Jurm valley, was felt across an area more than 1,000km wide and had a magnitude of 6.5, said the US Geological Survey. The Pakistan Meteorological Department, however, estimated the magnitude to be 6.8.

Tremors were felt in northern India, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre said.

The powerful temblor damaged buildings, triggered landslides and gave rise to panic among people who were seen running into open grounds in videos at a time when several families in the Asian subcontinent were celebrating the Persian New Year or Nowruz.

People gather outside a mall following an earthquake in Islamabad, Pakistan (AFP via Getty Images)
People gather outside a mall following an earthquake in Islamabad, Pakistan (AFP via Getty Images)

In Pakistan, more than 200 injured people were brought to hospitals in the Swat valley and other areas, said Bilal Faizi, a spokesperson for Pakistan’s emergency services.

Forty-four people were injured in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, officials said, and 19 houses were partially damaged, Abdul Basit, a senior official in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government told Reuters.

In Afghanistan, at least 50 people were injured.

Tremors were felt in the northern parts of Pakistan, in cities like Rawal­pindi, Islamabad, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Muzaffarabad, Peshawar, Haripur, Mardan, Chitral, Charsadda and others, where no loss of life was immediately reported.

“These terrified people collapsed, and some of them collapsed because of the shock of the earthquake,” Mr Basit said.

Pakistani prime minister Shahbaz Sharif ordered disaster management officials to remain vigilant to handle any situation in a statement to authorities.

The earthquake also shook the mountainous Gilgit-Baltistan region, where landslides triggered by the earthquake caused the death of livestock, reported the Dawn newspaper.

Sharafat Zaman Amar, the Taliban’s appointed spokesperson for the public health ministry, said two people were killed in the eastern province of Laghman.

“Unfortunately, there could be more casualties as the quake was so powerful in most parts of the country,” Mr Zaman Amar said.

Tremors were also felt in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul.

Huge parts of south Asia are seismically active because a tectonic plate known as the Indian plate is pushing north into the Eurasian plate.

Last year, more than 1,000 people were killed in eastern Afghanistan after a 6.1-magnitude earthquake.