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40 killed, 258 injured as powerful earthquake jolts Afghanistan

Casualties to soar as new reports will emerge from far-flung areas| The earthquake also hit Pakistan and northern parts of India| Indian PM Modi said ready to provide assistance where required, including Afghanistan and Pakistan

AT-KABUL: A powerful earthquake, 7.7 in magnitude, struck Afghanistan on Monday, destroying several houses in different provinces. At least 40 people were killed and 258 injured. Fears are high that the casualties will soar as some provincial officials still to provide data about the casualties and complete the assessment.

The earthquake rocked Afghanistan at 1:38 p.m. According to the US Geological Survey, the epicenter of the earthquake was said to be Juram district of Badakhshan province at a depth of 213.5 km.  The earthquake was able to be felt in the nearby countries of Tajikistan, Pakistan and India.  The director of seismology at the Indian Meteorological Department, Vineet Gahlot, confirmed magnitude of the earthquake and said the epicenter was deep in the Hindu Kush, Afghanistan. The earthquake lasted for one minute.

According to the data obtained by Afghanistan Times from official sources: eight people were killed and 78 injured in Nangarhar; 50 injured in Kabul; three killed and three others injured in Parwan; 13 killed and 30 injured in Badakhshan; 12 killed and 50 injured in Takhar; 30 injured in Kunar; eight injured in Baghlan; and four killed and nine others injured in Laghman province.

Officials at Badakhshan province said that they could not go to Juram district as the Taliban insurgents had presence in the district. Similarly, officials in Nuristan and Ghazni were unable to confirm the casualties.

Head of the media office of the Ministry of Public Health, Ismail Kawosi, told Afghanistan Times that 50 people were injured in Kabul including 11 men and nine women. In Nangarhar eight people were killed and 78 injured; in Takhar 12 people killed and 50 injured; in Baghlan eight people injured; in Kunar 30 people injured; and in Parwan three people injured.

He said that emergency has been declared in all state hospitals to treat the people injured in the natural calamity.

Confirming the casualties in Takhar, spokesman to the governor, Sanaullah Timuri, said that 12 people were killed and over 30 others were injured including school students. He said that the provincial authorities are working to confirm the casualties and assess the damages.

He said that over 60 houses were destroyed in different districts of the province.

Chief of the Parwan provincial council, Ghulam Haider Jaillani, said that initial reports suggest that three people were killed and three others wounded. He said that over 40 houses were destroyed in the province.

Muhammad Farid, an eye witness in Kabul, said that he was in his shop when the powerful earthquake jolted his shop. He said that walls swayed back and forth.

Farid said that people sitting in the shops, hotels, offices and vehicles were running to an open space while reciting verses from the Holy Quran.

According to local sources, six houses were destroyed in Deh Mazang area of the capital city, Kabul.

Governor of the Badakhshan province, Shah Waliullah, said that over 400 houses were destroyed and 25 people injured.

He said that the relevant authorities were assessing the damages and casualties, fearing that the casualties could rise.

Chief of the Badakhshan provincial council, Naji Nazari, said that 13 people were killed and 30 injured in the natural calamity.

Residents of different provinces complained that emergency services were too slow to respond to the earthquake. Roofs of dozens of houses and some schools caved in, trapping the students and inhabitants.

Volunteers are seen working in Nangarhar, Parwan, Kabul, Ghazni, Badakhshan, Kapisa and other provinces to provide services. Communication services have been disrupted in Kabul. Families of the foreigners were not able to contact their beloved ones in Kabul City.

Spokesman to the provincial governor of Nangarhar, Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, told Afghanistan Times that seven people killed and 78 injured in different districts of the province.

Expressing grief over the loss of lives, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah said that all relevant authorities were directed to mobilize all resources to ensure the security of citizens.

Addressing a press conference after an emergency meeting in Kabul, he ordered the relevant officials to coordinate the emergency efforts with the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA).

The tremors also claimed lives of 52 people in Pakistan and left many injured due to building collapses.

According to Dawn, a Pakistani newspaper, the magnitude of Monday’s earthquake was close to the previous earthquake of 2005, but the destruction was more widespread then due to the shallow epicenter of the earthquake.

“At least 194 injured were brought to Swat’s Saidu Sharif Teaching Hospital, which does not have adequate medical facilities. More than 100 wounded have been admitted to Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital. Tremors have been felt in major cities, including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Quetta, Kohat and Malakand,” Dawn reported.

The quake also rocked some parts of India. “Heard about strong earthquake in Afghanistan-Pakistan region whose tremors have been felt in parts of India. I pray for everyone’s safety,” India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

Modi said that he had asked for an urgent assessment and the Indian government was ready to provide assistance where required, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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