Wed, Apr 04, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Earthquake hits Afghanistan

`VERY STRONG' Centered 60km south of the provincial capital Faizabad, the 6.2-magnitude quake was felt in the capital and as far away as Pakistan, Tajikistan and India

AP , KABUL

A 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit a remote and mountainous area of northeast Afghanistan yesterday morning, shaking buildings in the capital and as far away as Pakistan, Tajikistan and India.

The earthquake in Badakhshan province was about 300km northeast of the capital, Kabul, where residents felt shaking buildings and ran outside their homes, and some windows were shattered. There were no immediate casualty reports.

"It was a very strong earthquake," said Agha Noor Kemtoz, the provincial police chief of Badakhshan, which shares a border with Pakistan, Tajikistan and China. "My room was shaking and the light was swinging back and forth."

The US Geological Survey said the 6.2-quake was centered 60km south of the provincial capital Faizabad and hit at 8:05am.

Damage reports from northeastern Afghanistan are often slow to trickle in because of the region's remoteness and a lack of communication facilities.

The quake was felt across northern Pakistan, including in the capital Islamabad, 450km away. It was also felt in Tajikistan and in the Indian and Pakistan-administered portions of Kashmir, where a severe earthquake in October 2005 left tens of thousands dead and caused widespread destruction.

In Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, residents dashed out of shops and homes when the temblor struck yesterday, and at least one boy was injured as he fell while running out of his school in the town of Dherkot.

In the town of Chakothi, on the Line of Control between Pakistani and Indian Kashmir, terrified residents recited verses from the Quran after evacuating buildings, local dentist Imtiaz Kazmi said.

Badakhshan -- the most remote area in Afghanistan -- is home to the towering mountains of the Hindu Kush, and is a region prone to earthquakes.

A 6.7-magnitude quake struck Badakhshan in December 2005, killing at least five children. That quake was centered about 100km southeast of Faizabad.

In 1998, a 6.9-magnitude quake hit near Faizabad, triggering massive mud slides and flooding that left more than 5,000 people dead.

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