13 People Dead After Powerful Earthquake Hits Afghanistan, Pakistan

13 People Dead After Powerful Earthquake Hits Afghanistan, Pakistan
People come out of a restaurant after a tremor was felt in Lahore, Pakistan, on March 21, 2023. (Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)
Aldgra Fredly

A magnitude 6.5 earthquake rattled Pakistan and Afghanistan on March 21, killing at least 13 people and injuring hundreds of others, with strong tremors felt in several North Indian states.

The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude at 6.5, while the Pakistan Meteorological Department reported a 6.8 magnitude. The epicenter of the earthquake was Afghanistan’s Hindukush region, bordering Pakistan and Tajikistan.

Nine of the reported deaths were from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan. At least 44 people were injured as their homes collapsed, according to the Pakistani disaster management authority.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Twitter that he had ordered the National Disaster Management Authority and other related institutions “to be ready to deal with any emergency” following the quake, according to an English translation.

In Afghanistan, at least four people were killed, including a child, and 70 others were injured in affected provinces, according to Sharafat Zaman Amar, a Taliban-appointed spokesperson for the Public Health Ministry.

“Unfortunately, there could be more casualties as the quake was so powerful, in most parts of the country,” Zaman Amar said, adding that all hospitals and health facilities are ready to save lives.

More than 200 people were brought to hospitals in the Swat valley and elsewhere in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in a state of shock, said Bilal Faizi, a spokesman for Pakistan’s emergency services.

“These terrified people collapsed, and some of them collapsed because of the shock of the earthquake,” he said. Faizi said that most were later discharged from the hospital.

Several cities in India felt the tremors, with videos on social media showing people in panic fleeing their homes and buildings after the earthquake shook the region.

The Indian National Center for Seismology said the tremors were felt for a “relatively longer time” in northwest India and Delhi due to the depth of the earthquake, Hindustan Times reported.
“The depth of the fault is over 150 kilometers so primary waves were felt at first, followed by secondary waves. Aftershocks are likely now, but they can’t be forecast,” J.L. Gautam, head of office and scientist at the National Center for Seismology, told the news outlet.

Last year in southeastern Afghanistan, a 6.1 magnitude quake struck a rugged, mountainous region, flattening stone and mud-brick homes. Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers put the total death toll from the quake at 1,150, with hundreds more injured, while the United Nations has offered a lower estimate of 770.

The latest earthquake hit Pakistan as it struggles to recover from last summer’s devastating floods which killed 1,739 people.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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