Pakistan Earthquake Toll Rises to 30, More Than 370 Injured

Several Indian states felt the tremors as well.

This story, originally published on September 24, has been republished with updates on the toll, number of injured and reactions from various quarters in Pakistan.

Islamabad/New Delhi: An earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter Scale jolted several cities in the northern parts of Pakistan – including Islamabad, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Lahore on Tuesday afternoon, killing at least 26 people and leaving more than 370 people injured.

Its effects were felt in the Delhi NCR and several northern states like Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana.

United States Geological Survey said the earthquake originated 23 kms north of Jhelum, at New Mirpur, is located in northeastern Pakistan roughly 120 km southeast of Islamabad.

The worst hit was Mirpur district in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Lt. Gen. Muhammad Afzal, chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority, said that most of the damage was done in Mirpur and Jhelum.

Eleven deaths have been reported in Jatlan and nine in Mirpur alone. Other people died in the areas located between Mirpur and Jari Kas, PoK’s State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) Secretary Shahid Mohyiddin said.

The number of casualties was likely to increase as around 100 of the injured were admitted to different hospitals in a critical condition, the report quoted the SDMA official as saying.

Pakistan Meteorological Department’s earthquake centre said the quake measured 5.8 on the Richter scale. Its depth was at 10 kilometres. The USGS too noted that the quake was 5.8 on the scale, reported Reuters.

However, Minister for Science Fawad Chaudhry said that the intensity of the quake was 7.1.

The India Meteorological Department, meanwhile, tweeted that the quake measured 6.3 on the Richter scale. IMD said it hit a depth of 40 km.

Some houses collapsed in Mirpur following the earthquake, Deputy Commissioner Raja Qaiser told PTI. Parts of a mosque also collapsed in the area. Emergency has been declared in hospitals across PoK.

TV channels showed the footage of heavily damaged roads in Mirpur, with many vehicles overturned. Several cars fell into the deep cracks on the roads. The building of the state-run Broadcasting House in Mirpur was badly damaged.

Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa directed “immediate rescue operation in aid of civil administration” for victims of earthquake in PoK. Army troops with aviation and medical support teams have been dispatched, the media wing of the army tweeted.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is in New York to attend the UN General Assembly session, expressed grief over the loss of human life. He directed all the concerned departments to provide immediate assistance to the quake-hit areas. President Arif Alvi also expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives.

Several cities including Skardu, Kohat, Charsadda, Kasur, Faisalabad, Gujrat, Sialkot, Abbottabad, Mansehra, Chitral, Malakand, Multan, Shangla, Okara, Nowshera, Attock and Jhang felt the tremors.

Meanwhile, concerns have been raised over social media as to how people in Jammu and Kashmir will be able to contact emergency services, given that it is the 51st day of the communication and internet clampdown in the area. The earthquake took place close enough to the border for the region to have been affected, even though no reports of injuries or fatalities are likely to come in immediately, given the same clampdown.

Lt, Gen, Afzal said Mangla to Jatalan road and three bridges were damaged in the quake. “We have enough resources to cope with the disaster,” he said.

He said the exact magnitude of disaster will be known by Wednesday.

Pakistan’s major water reservoir Mangla Dam located near Mirpur remained safe, officials said. Mangla dam power house has been closed, cutting off 900 MW power supply to the national grid, they said.

However, Upper Jhelum canal was damaged and water inundated various villages. The breach in the Upper Jhelum Canal was fixed due to timely intervention of officials, PoK Information Minister Mushtaq Minhas said.

In 2005, a powerful quake killed nearly 90,000 people in PoK and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

This is a developing story and is being updated as information comes in.

(With PTI inputs)