Powerful earthquake rocks Pakistan and Afghanistan
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Islamabad — A strong earthquake lasting for at least 30 seconds was felt across much of Pakistan Tuesday night, witnesses said. 

“People ran out of their houses and were reciting the Koran,” an AFP correspondent in Rawalpindi said, with similar reports coming from the capital Islamabad, Lahore and elsewhere in the country.

Powerful earthquake felt throughout Pakistan
People are seen in the streets following strong earthquake in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, March 21, 2023.

Muhammad Reza/Anadolu Agency/Getty

There were varying reports about the quake’s epicenter and strength, but the U.S. Geological Survey reported a 6.5 magnitude earthquake in the far northeast of Afghanistan, near the country’s border with Pakistan, at a depth of about 116 miles. It was also felt in bordering Tajikistan, the Associated Press reported. People in Delhi, India, who turned to social media in the earthquake’s aftermath reported feeling the tremor as well.

At least 12 people were injured in northwest Pakistan in the quake, and Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif in a statement said he asked disaster management officials to remain vigilant to handle any situation, according to the AP.

The USGS initially assessed that there was a “low likelihood” of damage or casualties based on the location and strength of the temblor. Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesperson for the government in Afghanistan, said no casualties had been reported in a tweet posted about an hour after the quake. Health centers across the country were placed on standby anyway, the spokesperson added. He said later that Afghanistan’s public health ministry had ordered the deployment of resources to potentially affected areas in the northern part of the country, where the earthquake may have caused damage.

Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

More than 1,000 people were killed and tens of thousands made homeless after a 5.9-magnitude quake — the deadliest in Afghanistan in nearly a quarter of a century — struck the impoverished province of Paktika on June 22 last year.

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