Dec 14

Earthquake hits Afghanistan and sparks panic in Kashmir

Sam Jones
Tuesday December 13, 2005
The Guardian

A strong earthquake struck the Hindu Kush region of north-eastern Afghanistan late last night, rattling through northern Pakistan and Kashmir, both of which were devastated by another quake two months ago. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries following the earthquake, which happened just before 3am local time.
The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 6.7.

The quake, which was centred in Badakhshan province about 65 miles south-east of Feyzabad in the Hindu Kush mountains, was felt more than 200 miles away in Islamabad, Pakistan and in Kabul, where the tremors lasted several seconds.

Abdul Majid, the governor of Badakhshan, told the Associated Press that the ground there shook for two minutes. He said he had no information about any damage in the mountainous region, where communication with remote districts is difficult.
“It was a strong earthquake,” said the provincial police chief, Shah Jahan Noori. He added he had been unable to contact remote districts of the province, which reaches to the Pakistani border, and had no information about damage or casualties.

People in nearby Pakistani Kashmir – where more than 73,000 people died in a major earthquake on October 8 – fled their homes fearing another catastrophe. There were similar scenes of panic in parts of Islamabad and people ran from their homes in Srinagar, the main city in Indian Kashmir.

The Indian capital, New Delhi, was also shaken by the quake, and people in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s North-west Frontier Province, were woken by the powerful tremor. “It was very strong. It was very scaring,” said Mohammad Aalim, who lives in Peshawar.

“Many people living in old houses fled from their homes.”

More than 500,000 people were left homeless in Pakistani Kashmir and North-west Frontier Province by the October 8 quake, which had a magnitude of 7.6. It tore apart scores of remote villages, leaving many people with little or no food, shelter and medical help as the Himalayan winter closed in. Many mountain villages were cut off by landslides and could be reached only by helicopter.

The area stretching across Pakistan into India and Afghanistan is a hotbed for seismic activity that erupts each time the plates of the Indian subcontinent slam into Asia.

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