NEW DELHI – A strong earthquake struck Tajikistan on Friday and the tremors were felt as far away as north India and Pakistan, witnesses said. Many residents ran out of their homes, but no major damage was reported.
The U.S Geological Survey put the quake’s magnitude at 5.9 and centred 35 km (55 miles) west of Murghob in Tajikistan, central Asia.
The Tajikistan Emergency Situations Ministry said the epicentre was 420 km (260 miles) east of the Tajik capital Dushanbe near the border with China.
The seismic service of the country’s Academy of Sciences told Russia’s RIA Novosti that the quake’s intensity was measured at 6.1. The news agency said there were no casualties or damage, citing the Committee on Emergency Situations.
Monitoring agencies in the region pegged the quake as being a bit more severe. India’s National Center for Seismology said its magnitude was 6.3, while the National Seismic Monitoring Centre in Pakistan measured it at 6.4.
Tremors were felt in Dushanbe but the epicentre was in a sparsely populated area.
Cracks were reported in some homes in northern Kashmir, the Indian Meteorological Department said. A witness also reported a wall collapse near the northern Indian city of Amritsar, but there were no reports of casualties.
A resident in Indian Kashmir’s Baramulla district said it felt like a strong wind had lashed his house. “My whole house shook and cracks appeared in a corner of one of the rooms,” Firdous Ahmad Khan said.
Tremors were felt across Pakistan including the capital, Islamabad, and northwestern Peshawar, and even as far as the eastern city of Lahore, which borders India.
In Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, where a 2005 earthquake wreaked serious destruction, there was panic, according to witnesses, and many people rushed out of their homes in fear.
“I thought it’s the same like what had hit us in 2005. My children started crying,” said Asif Maqbool, a resident in Madina Market, a neighbourhood of Muzaffarabad that was almost flattened in the 2005 quake.
Saima Khalid, a resident of the Khawaja Muhalla district of Muzaffarabad, said everyone in the neighbourhood came out onto the streets.
“They were crying, reciting verses from the Holy Koran,” she said.
The quake was also felt in northern Afghanistan but there were no reports of casualties or damage.