Strong earthquake hits north-east Afghanistan

PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM WWW.USGS.GOV

KABUL (AFP) – A 6.2 magnitude earthquake rocked northeast Afghanistan late Friday close to the country’s borders with Pakistan and Tajikistan, leaving at least 17 people injured, according to the US Geological Survey.

The quake, which measured 203.5km deep, struck about 280km northeast of the Afghan capital Kabul at 11:44 pm (1914GMT, 3.14am on Saturday, Singapore time) , the USGS said on its website.

Kabul residents rushed out of their homes and buildings on what was a bitterly cold night amid fears of aftershocks, an AFP journalist said, while the quake also caused buildings to sway in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

An AFP reporter said the earthquake appeared to continue for at least 30 seconds, while Twitter users as far away as New Delhi said they felt its impact.

Though there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties in Afghanistan, at least 30 people were injured as a result of the quake in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, according to a hospital spokesman.

In October, a 7.5-magnitude quake ripped across Pakistan and Afghanistan, killing nearly 400 people and flattening buildings in rugged terrain that impeded relief efforts.

For many in Pakistan, October’s quake brought back traumatic memories of a 7.6-magnitude quake that struck in October 2005, killing more than 75,000 people and displacing some 3.5 million.

Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

In Nepal a quake in April and a strong aftershock in May killed more than 8,900 people.