A massive earthquake measuring 7.5 on Richter scale jolted north India on Monday afternoon. The earthquake with an epicentre in the Hindukush mountain range in Afghanistan struck at around 2:40 PM, sending ripples across several states like Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan. Panic-stricken people were seen rushing out of their houses and buildings with the shocks lasting almost a minute.
Though, there are no immediate reports of any loss of life or property in India, large scale casualties are feared in in Af-Pak region, the epicenter of the massive earthquake.
Initial reports said that more than 50 persons were killed and over 300 are reportedly left injured in Pakistan, while 18, including 12 children are reported to have died after a stampede broke out in a school in northern Afghanistan province of Takhar. Officials say that the toll is bound to rise.
According to the local authorities, at least 194 injured were brought to Swat region’s Saidu Sharif Teaching Hospital and 100 wounded have been admitted to Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital.
Back in India, two army personnel were left injured when their bunker collapsed following tremors in Sopore, 55 kms from Srinagar, in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. The flyover at Jehangir Chowk in the heart of Srinagar also developed crack, forcing the authorities to suspend traffic over it, the district officials said. A vehicle was left damaged too after a tree uprooted post the strong tremors.
Expressing concerns over the strong quake, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked for an urgent assessment of the situation.
“Heard about strong earthquake in Afghanistan-Pakistan region whose tremors have been felt in parts of India. I pray for everyone’s safety,” PM Modi wrote on a micro-blogging site Twitter adding, “I have asked for an urgent assessment and we stand ready for assistance where required, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
In the national capital New Delhi, people were seen frantically rushing out of the houses and offices as the ground shook. The metro services were briefly halted as well.
“Please stay calm and do not panic. Disaster management teams have been activated,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted adding Delhi government has activated its disaster management teams soon after the incident.
In Chandigarh, the tremors led to the disruption in telecom services for a while. Similar reports were received from across Punjab including Amritsar, Phagwara, Jalandhar, Patiala, Faridkot, Gurdaspur, Ludhiana and Mohali.
According to National Center for Seismology, a unit of Ministry of Earth Science, the epicentre of the earthquake — Hindukush mountain range — is known to be a high sesimic zone. The earthquake occurred at the depth of 190 kms, according to the Centre for Seismology.
(With inputs from the PTI/Agencies)