Magnitude 6.5 quake centered near Jurm village in northeastern Afghanistan leaves at least nine people dead in Pakistan and two in Afghanistan, officials in both South Asian countries say.
Death toll has climbed to 11 after a magnitude 6.5 earthquake rattled much of Pakistan and Afghanistan, sending panicked residents fleeing from homes and offices and frightening people even in remote villages.
Nine people were killed when roofs collapsed in various parts of northwestern Pakistan, Bilal Faizi, a spokesperson for Pakistan's emergency services, told The Associated Press, late on Tuesday.
More than 100 people were brought to hospitals in the Swat valley region of Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in a state of shock, Faizi said.
"These terrified people collapsed, and some of them collapsed because of the shock of the earthquake," he said.
Afghan officials said two people were killed in eastern Laghman province.
The US Geological Survey said the centre of the magnitude 6.5 quake was located 40 kilometres south-southeast of Jurm in Afghanistan's mountainous Hindukush region, bordering Pakistan and Tajikistan.
It said the depth of the earthquake was 187.6 kilometres.
In Pakistan, dozens of others were injured in the quake. The earthquake triggered landslides in some of the mountainous areas, disrupting traffic.
Taimoor Khan, a spokesman for the provincial disaster management authority in the northwest, said at least 19 mudbrick homes collapsed in remote areas. “We are still collecting data about the damages,” he said.
The powerful tremors sent many people fleeing their homes and offices in Pakistan's capital of Islamabad, some reciting verses from the Quran, Islam's holy book. Media reports suggested cracks had appeared in some apartment buildings in the city.
Rakhshinda Tauseed, a physician, said she was at her hospital in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore when the earthquake hit. "I quickly asked patients to go move to a safer place," she said.
Khurram Shahzad, a resident in Pakistan's garrison city of Rawalpindi, said he was having dinner with his family at a restaurant when the walls started swaying.
"I quickly thought that it is a big one, and we left the restaurant and came out," he told The Associated Press by phone. He said he saw hundreds of people standing on the streets.
The situation was similar in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on the border with Afghanistan, where people were seen standing outside their homes and offices.
In northern Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, a 90-metre-long wall around a police station collapsed, according to a police district spokesman, but did not cause any casualties.
A local Pashto TV channel Mahshriq TV during the earthquake. Brave of the anchor to keep his calm. But shows the impact of the earthquake. #Peshawar #Pakistan pic.twitter.com/7h3FOxBvtF— Iftikhar Firdous (@IftikharFirdous) March 21, 2023
'We thought houses are collapsing on us'
The scene was repeated in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan.
"The quake was so strong and terrifying, we thought houses are collapsing on us, people were all shouting and were shocked," said Shafiullah Azimi, a Kabul resident.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the main spokesperson for the Taliban government in Afghanistan, tweeted that the Ministry of Public Health had ordered all health centers to be on standby.
Shafiullah Rahimi, a spokesperson for Afghanistan's disaster mitigation ministry, said two people had been killed in eastern Laghman province.
Mahzudeen Ahmadi, the head of Badakhshan's information department told Reuters news agency they were also checking the province for any casualties, but had no reports yet.
"We felt a strong earthquake, according to primary information the main place (affected) was Yamgan District," he said.
Some of mountainous Badakhshan's remote villages can be difficult to reach and do not have access to phone or internet.
In the provincial capital, Faizabad, 29-year old Ashraf Nael said he was at home on Tuesday evening when the windows of his family home began rattling strongly for about a minute.
"My brothers and sisters all ran outside . .. we live in a concrete house, those houses which are made from mud might have been damaged," he said.
The region is prone to violent seismic upheavals. A magnitude 7.6 quake in 2005 killed thousands of people in Pakistan and disputed Kashmir.
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 UN has offered a lower estimate of 770.
Death toll from magnitude 6.5 earthquake that rattled much of Pakistan and Afghanistan climbs to at least nine; more than 100 people brought to hospitals in Pakistan’s Swat valley region pic.twitter.com/UhuTJeH3cq— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) March 21, 2023
Shaking could be felt as far as the Indian capital, New Delhi. In Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir — the site of a deadly earthquake in 2005 in which more than 80,000 people were killed — people ran out of their homes, crying and reciting holy verses, according to a Reuters witness.
Panicked residents of India-administered Kashmir fled homes during the earthquake.
Shaking was felt over an area 1,000 kilometres wide by approximately 285 million people in Pakistan, India, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre.
Large parts of South Asia are seismically active because a tectonic plate known as the Indian plate is pushing north into the Eurasian plate.
READ MORE: Deadly earthquake hits near Afghanistan's Jalalabad