Residents flee from homes as 6.5 magnitude earthquake hits Pakistan and Afghanistan

Rescue worker unload earthquake victims from an ambulance at a hospital in Saidu Sharif, a town Pakistan's Swat valley
Earthquake victims taken by ambulance to a hospital in Saidu Sharif, a town Pakistan's Swat valley. Credit: AP

A magnitude 6.5 earthquake rattled much of Afghanistan and Pakistan, sending panicked residents fleeing from their homes and frightening people even in remote villages.

At least nine people died on Tuesday evening, including a girl who was killed in a stampede of fleeing people, and a man whose roof collapsed on him.

More than 100 people were brought to hospitals in the Swat valley region of Pakistan’s north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in a state of shock, Bilal Faizi, a spokesman for Pakistan’s emergency services said. “These terrified people collapsed, and some of them collapsed because of the shock of the earthquake,” he said. Mr Faizi said most were later discharged from the hospital.

It was earlier reported that twelve people were injured as the waves reportedly shook buildings.

Panicked residents fled their homes, praying and reciting verses from the Quran, Islam's holy book.

Rescue workers and people gather at a hospital, where earthquake victims are brought, in Saidu Sharif, a town Pakistan's Swat valley Credit: AP

The scene was repeated in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan.

"The quake was so strong and terrifying, we thought houses are collapsing on us, people were all shouting and were shocked,” said Shafiullah Azimi, a Kabul resident.

Khurram Shahzad, a resident in Pakistan's garrison city of Rawalpindi, said he was having dinner with his family at a restaurant when the walls started swaying.

“I quickly thought that it is a big one, and we left the restaurant and came out,” he said.

He also reported seeing hundreds of people standing on the streets.

The US Geological Survey said the earthquake had a magnitude of 6.5 and the epicentre was located 40 kilometres (25 miles) south-east of Jurm, in Afghanistan's Hindukush region, bordering Pakistan and Tajikistan.

A tweet from the Indian National Centre for Seismology shows the epicentre of the powerful earthquake, which hit the region on Tuesday evening

The panic was similar in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on the border with Afghanistan, where people were seen standing outside their homes and offices.

The earthquake triggered landslides in some of the mountainous areas, disrupting traffic.

Taimoor Khan, a spokesman for a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa disaster management group, said at least 19 mudbrick homes collapsed in remote areas.

“We are still collecting data about the damages,” he said.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said in a statement that disaster management officials were told to remain vigilant to handle any situation.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the main spokesman for the Taliban government in Afghanistan, tweeted that the Ministry of Public Health had ordered all health centres to be on standby.

The Geological Survey also said the earthquake struck just before 5pm, at a depth of 187.6km.

An aftershock with a magnitude of 3.7 has also hit the Hindukush Region, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department.

The region is prone to violent seismic upheavals. A magnitude 7.6 quake in 2005 killed thousands of people in Pakistan and Kashmir.

In June, another powerful earthquake killed some 1,000 people and injured around another 1,500 in eastern Afghanistan, according to a state-run news agency.