At Least 13 People Dead Following Major Earthquake in Afghanistan and Pakistan
The number of lives lost due to a powerful earthquake in northeast Afghanistan on Tuesday may be much higher than the current figure of 13, authorities have warned. The quake, registering at 6.5 on the Richter scale, was felt in numerous Pakistani cities as well as in New Delhi, India.
It had its epicenter about 40 kilometers (24 miles) southeast of the Afghan town of Jurm at a depth of 187.6 kilometers (116 miles), as per the United States Geological Survey. The temblor resulted in many people evacuating their homes in towns across Afghanistan and Pakistan as it caused destruction to buildings and triggered mudslides.
At least four people were killed and 70 others injured from affected areas in Afghanistan due to the earthquake, Sharafat Zaman Amar, spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, reported. Shafiullah Rahimi, spokesperson for the Ministry of Disaster Management, cautioned that the death toll may rise as search and rescue teams access more remote villages.
Pakistan also suffered quakes damages, with nine people having lost their lives – including two children – and 44 injuries reported in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, according to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA).
Noor Wali, a driver hailing from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Lower Dir region, was having food at a restaurant when he felt the tremors. “One wall of the restaurant crumbled and everyone ran to save themselves. People were screaming in fear,” he said. “I was standing close to the mountain and it felt like the mountain was going to come down on us. People were crying out to Allah”.
Images from Saidu Sharif, a town found in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, captured how ambulances were transporting the quake victims to the hospital while a crowd was assembled outside. Moreover, landslides had blocked multiple roads in Abbotabad, a city in northern Pakistan, according to Bilal Faizi, spokesperson for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial rescue services.
In Kabul, the Afghan capital, 28-year-old Roheen spent the night in the cold with his family and neighbors outside in the parking lot of their building complex. It all began when he was watching television at home and felt the first and second jolts of the earthquake, although they were not too strong. However, the third one shook the building so violently that plates fell from the kitchen cabinets and the television from the wall. Roheen quickly thought of the destruction caused by the earthquake in Turkey and knew that if he didn't act fast, their apartment could collapse on them.
On February 6, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 struck Turkey near the Syrian border, resulting in the death of more than 50,000 people and leaving lasting aftershocks in the region.
The quake has also caused fear in Kabul, with one resident, Amanuddin, 42, saying that the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey have scared them even further. He added that they do not know whether it is safe to go back inside due to the potential for cracks in their apartments caused by the earthquake.
The populace of the region received a deep shock as powerful tremors were palpable across the region. A CNN squad in Islamabad clearly felt the sustained shaking and saw individuals evacuating their homes with trees shaking. Witnesses stated that a few houses in Islamabad displayed cracks in their walls.
Similar tremors were also felt in Lahore and New Delhi, in addition to Srinagar - the main city of Indian-controlled Kashmir- where a resident mentioned that the house was shaking while neighbors exited the houses.
This earthquake arrives not long after a destructive earthquake hit Afghanistan's east in June 2022 causing the death of over one thousand people and injuring many more, worsening the difficult humanitarian crisis in the land.
Afghanistan is no stranger to earthquakes, particularly those in the mountainous Hindu Kush region that borders Pakistan.