A magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck northern Afghanistan early Monday, sending powerful tremors into Pakistan and India. Seismologists report the epicenter of the quake was located deep in the Hindu Kush mountains. Sustained tremors were felt in the capital cities of Afghanistan and Pakistan, forcing workers to evacuate office buildings and fill the streets as they trembled. At the time of this report, the death toll has climbed to 100 but many more victims are anticipated as recovery efforts continue.
The United States Geological Survey has reported the quake officially registered 7.5, although local experts in Afghanistan and Pakistan initially reported measuring the magnitude at 7.7. The quake occurred at 9:09 AM on 26 October, 2015. The earthquake caused power outages in several places, including much of Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city. Telephone service has also been disrupted for much of the country, making it difficult for government officials to communicate with one another and with the press about the situation.
Related: Destroyed Buddha statues in Afghanistan stand again, thanks to holograms
Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, was also rocked by the quake, although the structural damage appears to be much less severe in that region so far. Outside of the capital, hundreds of motorists in Pakistan were already caught in a bizarre snowstorm, according to a Washington Post reporter, when the earthquake occurred. It’s not known at this time what impact the earthquake had on those motorists.
Small tremors were also felt in Delhi, India’s capital, much farther away from the epicenter. Offices and schools were evacuated and the city shut down metro service as a precaution.
This region is known for its powerful earthquakes, and many of the past tremors have caused widespread devastation. In April, thousands were killed when a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck in Nepal, which was followed two weeks later by a slightly less powerful second quake. In 2005, a 7.6-magnitude quake hit a Pakistani-controlled area of Kashmir, killing 76,000 people.
Aid workers have mobilized quickly, joining with local citizens to dig through rubble to locate survivors and victims. The Guardian and other news outlets are publishing live reports as events unfold. USGS reports that, statistically speaking, there is a one-third chance that the death toll will climb between 100 and 1,000.
Via The Guardian
Images via USGS