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7.7 magnitude earthquake hits Afghanistan: 22 killed, 129 injured

AT-KABUL: A powerful earthquake, 7.7 in magnitude, struck Afghanistan on Monday, destroying several houses in different provinces. However, casualties could not be confirmed.

The earthquake rocked Afghanistan at 1:30 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.

Spokesman to the Takhar 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.

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 71 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

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed all federal, civil, military and provincial agencies to declare an immediate alert and mobilise all resources to ensure the security of citizens of Pakistan. All agencies have been directed to move out with their resources.

President Mamnoon Hussain has expressed grief over the loss of lives in the natural calamity.

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