KABUL/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – A powerful earthquake struck a remote area of northeastern Afghanistan on Monday, shaking the capital Kabul and killing at least 17 people while 12 were killed in neighbouring Pakistan, officials said.
Shockwaves were felt in northern India and in Pakistan’s capital, where hundreds of people ran out of buildings as the ground rolled beneath them.
The quake was 213 km (132 miles) deep and centred 254 km (158 miles) northeast of Kabul in a remote area of Afghanistan in the Hindu Kush mountain range.
The U.S. Geological Survey initially measured the quake’s intensity at 7.7 then revised it down to 7.5.
Twelve girls were killed in a stampede while trying to escape from their school in the north Afghan city of Taloqan while five people were killed in the eastern province of Nangahar, officials said.
Scores of people were injured.
In northwestern Pakistan, at least 12 people were killed, including one in the city of Peshawar, according to government officials.
Injured people were pouring into Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, an official said.
“We received 50 injured and more are being shifted. The injured suffered multiple injuries due to building collapse,” said hospital spokesman Syed Jamil Shah.
In the Afghan capital, Kabul, buildings shook violently but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
International aid agencies working in the northern areas of Afghanistan reported that cell phone coverage in the affected areas remained down in the hour after the initial quake.
India’s northernmost region of Kashmir experienced intense and prolonged tremors that caused panic in areas that suffered severe flooding last year. Power supplies and most mobile networks were knocked out, and there was structural damage to roads and buildings.
No casualties were reported in Indian Kashmir, however.
The earthquake struck almost exactly six months after Nepal suffered its worst quake on record, on April 25. Including the toll from a major aftershock in May, 9,000 people lost their lives and 900,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.
The mountainous region is seismically active, with earthquakes the result of the Indian subcontinent driving into and under the Eurasian landmass. Sudden tectonic shifts can cause enormous and destructive releases of energy.
A 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck northern Pakistan just over a decade ago, on Oct. 8, 2005, killing about 75,000 people.
(Reporting by James Mackenzie and Krista Mahr in Kabul and Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar; Writing by Nick Macfie and Douglas Busvine; Editing by Robert Birsel)