7.6 Intensity Earthquake Rocks Indian Subcontinent
An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale hit Pakistan, Afganistan and North India. The epicenter is supposed to located in Muzaffarabad in Pakistan (POK) about 95 km (60 miles) northeast of Islamabad, the shocks were also felt in Afganistan. The quake hit around 9:30 AM IST.[inline:1]
Preliminary reports have indicated the damage in Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir in India is widespread. But further contact for causalities and damage has not been possible because it was difficult to get details as phone lines are down and mobile networks overwhelmed.
Scores of people were feared killed or trapped in two apartment blocks reduced to rubble in Islamabad, the two tower blocks had contained 75 apartments.
"I just cannot say how many people are still under there and we are trying to evacuate them. Over 75 apartments were affected so the number of people is in the hundreds," said Mohammad Ali, a government official in Islamabad.
People were heard screaming in fear inside their houses in Islamabad during the quake -- which lasted for about a minute -- and car and house alarms were set off by the shaking.
Minutes later sirens could be heard as the emergency services began racing through the city of close to a million people.
An aftershock of magnitude 5.9 was felt in the Pakistan capital about an hour later, causing more panic.
The situation was still tense, witnesses said, with residents listening and watching the crows -- which are believed to fall silent immediately before an earthquake.
In Lahore, closer to the epicenter, at least nine people were injured, including eight officials of the paramilitary rangers, who were caught when the roof of their office collapsed, police said.
"We can say that it was one of the strongest earthquakes (ever) felt in Islamabad," said Mohammad Hanif, an official at the Pakistan Meteorological Department.
Gen. Shaukat Sultan, the spokesman for Pakistan's army said, troops and helicopters were dispatched to conduct rescue operations.
25 people had been killed in Pakistani Kashmir and four in northern Pakistan. The quake was also felt in the Indian and Afghan capitals. A young girl was killed in eastern Afghanistan when a wall collapsed. Two houses collapsed in Amritsar, though casualties have not been reported yet.
In Jammu and Kashmir power and communication lines are down, with news of damage in Srinagar also coming in. Several buildings had been damaged in the northern districts of Uri, Baramullah and Kupwara. One person had been killed and 50 injured in Baramullah district. Strong tremors triggered landslides, blocking the 300-km (190-mile) Jammu-Srinagar highway. Landslides also blocked the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road, linking the Indian and Pakistani sectors of Kashmir.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) situated the earthquake on its Website between Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir with a magnitude of 7.6.
It described the quake as "major", saying it took place at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), since the epicenter was relatively close to the surface, the quake was likely to have been felt over a large area.The epicenter of the quake, Muzaffarabad is located in Zone IV of the seismic zones and is considered to be High Damage Risk Zone.