Powerful earthquake hits Afghanistan, felt in Pakistan

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A powerful 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck northern Afghanistan Wednesday, the US Geological Survey said, sending people in Kabul rushing into the streets and creating tremors as far away as Islamabad and New Delhi.

The quake struck at 0707 GMT near Afghanistan's northern border with Tajikistan in the Hindu Kush mountains at a depth of 191 kilometers (119 miles), the USGS said.

Frightened residents ran out of homes and shops following the tremor in Kabul. The city is already on edge after more than 130 people were killed in the last two weeks in a series of devastating militant attacks.

No casualties were immediately reported, the spokesman for Afghanistan's National Disaster Management Authority told 1TV.

The epicentre was near Jarm in Badakhshan province, scene of a devastating 7.5 magnitude quake in October 2015.

This time initial reports of damage were limited, local officials told AFP.

"We felt it in Faizabad (capital of Badakhshan). So far no reports of casualties but we are checking with people in Jarm district," said a spokesman for the provincial governor.

Large swathes of Badakhshan are controlled or contested by the Taliban, which could complicate efforts to assess damage and deliver aid.

Across the border in Pakistan, similar scenes played out in Islamabad, Peshawar and Lahore, where homes, offices and schools were quickly evacuated. Mild tremors were also felt in the Indian capital New Delhi.

At least one infant was killed and nine of her family members injured in southwest Pakistan's Balochistan province after the roof of their home collapsed, a local official said.

In Peshawar four girls were injured in a stampede as students fled a government girls' primary school in the northwestern provincial capital. All were reported in stable condition.
Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority said it did not expect serious losses.

The 2015 earthquake in Badakhshan triggered landslides and flattened buildings, killing more than 380 people across the region including 248 in Pakistan.

Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

Aid agencies have stressed the need for greater disaster preparedness in the war-torn country, which remains extremely susceptible to natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and landslides.

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