On Wednesday, March 22, a powerful magnitude earthquake felt across thousands of kilometers in Afghanistan and Pakistan killed at least 12 people.
According to the US Geological Survey, the magnitude 6.5 quake was centered near Jurm in northeastern Afghanistan, although the depth of 187 kilometers (116 miles) prevented widespread damage.
The quake, which occurred about 09:30 p.m. Kabul time on Tuesday and lasted more than 30 seconds, was felt across 2,000 kilometers from Central Asia to New Delhi, India.
“It was a powerful earthquake and we feared maximum damage due to the intensity — that’s why we issued an alert,” Bilal Faizi, a spokesman for Pakistan’s emergency Rescue 1122 service in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told AFP.
“But fortunately our fears proved wrong. Residents panicked due to the magnitude of the earthquake, but the damage was minimal.”
The region is frequently hit by quakes especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.
In Jurm district, near the epicentre, a resident of one village reported no casualties despite the location.
“We are about 2,000 to 3,000 people in our village and we all spent the night outside under the sky,” said Inamullah, reached by phone.
“We were all scared and stayed awake the entire night.”
Panicked residents of cities and towns in Afghanistan and Pakistan also fled their homes to seek safety away from buildings with many too scared to return.
“We stayed the night in our courtyard… it was cold outside, but we preferred to stay out rather than go back,” 24-year-old student Neda Raihan told AFP in Kabul.
Over 55,000 people were killed by an earthquake that struck southeastern Turkey and parts of Syria last month, heightening fears across the region.
“The children started shouting that there is an earthquake. We all ran out. The horrors of the earthquake in Turkey and neighbouring countries had a strong effect on our nerves,” said Ikhlaq Kazmi, a retired professor in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi.
Officials in Afghanistan reported three deaths and 44 injuries, but phone and internet connections to remote parts of the country had been severed, making communication difficult, while officials in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, north of Pakistan’s capital, reported nine deaths, including two women and two children.