A deadly earthquake of magnitude 7.5 hit north-east Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan on the afternoon of 26 October 2015 at 1:39pm. More than 150 people are reported killed and several more injured. These figures are expected to rise as communication lines were disrupted at the centre of the quake which was in the Hindu Kush mountain range, 76 kilometres (45 miles) south of Faizabad.
In the province of Takhar, situated in the north east of Afghanistan, at least 12 school girls were killed in a stampede as they rushed to get out of their school as the quake hit.
Fortunately, the quake was more than 200 kilometres (125miles) deep and although it was widespread, did not cause as much damage as a shallow but similar earthquake would cause. Tremors were also felt in India and Tajikistan. The Delhi metro was halted for a short time following the tremors, and buildings in the Tajik capital Dushanbe were damaged.
According to the military in Pakistan, 123 people were reported to have died in northern Pakistan, with 38 deaths being reported by early evening, mostly in the northern areas which border Afghanistan. The majority of 123 fatalities were in the Malakand region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region.
One of the hardest hit was the northern province of Chitral, where death tolls are expected to rise as well due to many areas still being cut off from communication. Nawaz Sharif – Pakistan’s Prime Minister – has had to make changes in his current visit abroad and is returning to Pakistan.
In the mountainous regions of Gilgit and Chitral, landslides were also reported and roads were cut off by boulders.
Slightly more than ten years ago, Pakistan was hit by 7.6 magnitude earthquake which killed approximately 75,000 people.
In war-torn Afghanistan, there have been reports that cellphone coverage was down in the first few hours of the earthquake.
Scott Anderson, Deputy Head of Office for the United Nations says, “The problem is we just don’t know. A lot of the phone lines are still down.” Information is currently being collected on the scale of the damage the earthquake has caused.
Nepal suffered its most devastating earthquake to date almost six months ago exactly, on April 25, where 9,000 people lost their lives and 900,000 homes were severely damaged. That earthquake was only 8km deep, hence the devastation it caused.
This mountainous area is seismically active. The region is susceptible to powerful earthquakes due to the northward collision of India and Eurasia whose plates are moving towards each other at a rate of 4-5cm per year.