An earthquake of magnitude 7.5 (according to the U.S. Geological Survey) struck major cities of Pakistan, including the northern areas leaving at least 150 dead and more than 1500 injured. The devastating earthquake caused land slides, collapsed houses and dealt massive damage to the communication infrastructure which cut off many remote areas from the rest of the country. The earthquake brought back horrifying memories of the October 2005 earthquake that devastated the country.
The earthquake struck the country at 2:09pm. There are fears that the death toll could climb in the days to come because communication networks are down in many parts. Forty minutes after the first earthquake, an aftershock of 4.8 magnitude was reported in the same area. Aftershocks are expected in the next forty-eight hours in the affected areas. The earthquake was of a similar magnitude to that of 2005 but fortunately less destructive because of its deeper epicenter with a dept of 196 kilometer compared to the devastating 2005 earthquake which had a depth of only 26 kilometer. The epicenter of the quake was deep in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan
Khyber Pakhtunkwa was the worst hit with most of the causalities and injured reported from the province. There have been numerous reports of widespread damage in the Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral, Chitral was the closest region to the earthquake’s epicenter.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif immediately directed all federal, civil, military and provincial agencies to declare an immediate alert and mobilise all resources to ensure that the relief activities are carried out efficiently. President Mamnoon Hussain also expressed grief over the loss of lives in the natural calamity. According to Inter-Services Public Relations, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has directed army personnel to reach out where required to help affected people without waiting for orders.