Tajikistan earthquake causes panic in India and Pakistan

No casualties or damage reported from 5.9 magnitude tremor in Central Asian country's remote east

Residents of Amritsar fled their homes as tremors shook the city in Punjab state, north-western India, after a powerful earthquake in Tajikistan. AFP
Residents of Amritsar fled their homes as tremors shook the city in Punjab state, north-western India, after a powerful earthquake in Tajikistan. AFP

A strong earthquake struck Tajikistan, central Asia, on Friday, with the tremors felt as far away as northern India and Pakistan. Many residents ran out of their homes, but no major damage was reported.

The US Geological Survey put the earthquake's magnitude at 5.9 and said the centre was 35 kilometres west of Murghob in Tajikistan.

The Tajikistan Emergency Situations Ministry said the centre was 420km east of the Tajik capital Dushanbe, near the border with China.

The seismic service of the country's Academy of Sciences told Russian news agency RIA Novosti that the earthquake's intensity was measured at 6.1. The agency said there were no casualties or damage, quoting the Committee on Emergency Situations.

Monitoring agencies in the region registered the earthquake as being a bit more severe. India's National Centre for Seismology said its magnitude was 6.3, while the National Seismic Monitoring Centre in Pakistan measured it at 6.4.

Tremors were felt in Dushanbe but the centre was in a sparsely populated area.

Cracks were reported in some homes in northern Kashmir, the Indian Meteorological Department said. A witness also reported a wall collapse near the northern Indian city of Amritsar, but there were no reports of casualties.

A resident in the Baramulla district of Indian Kashmir said it felt like a strong wind struck his house.

"My whole house shook and cracks appeared in a corner of one of the rooms," Firdous Ahmad Khan said.

Tremors were felt across Pakistan, including the capital, Islamabad, and north-western Peshawar, and even as far as the eastern city of Lahore, which borders India.

In Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-held Kashmir, where a 2005 earthquake caused serious destruction, many people fled their homes.

"I thought it's like what hit us in 2005. My children started crying," said Asif Maqbool, a resident in Madina Market, a neighbourhood of Muzaffarabad that was almost flattened in the 2005 earthquake.

Saima Khalid, a resident of the Khawaja Muhalla district of Muzaffarabad, said everyone in the area came out on to the streets.

"They were crying, reciting verses from the holy Quran," she said.

The earthquake was also felt in northern Afghanistan but there were no reports of casualties or damage.

Updated: February 13, 2021 08:44 PM

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