Earthquake hits Pakistan-administered Kashmir

Earthquake hits Pakistan-administered Kashmir

A magnitude5.8 earthquake has rattled Pakistan-administered Kashmir and areas in Punjab province, killing at least seven people and wounding dozens, a hospital official told Al Jazeera. 

The quake hit 22 kilometres (14 miles) north of the city of Jhelum along the boundary separating the agricultural heartland of Punjab province and Pakistani-administered Kashmir, the US geological agency, USGS, said on Tuesday.

Pakistan’s chief meteorologist Muhammad Riaz told AFP news agency that “the worst hit” was the city of Mirpur.

“We have received more than 100 people here at the hospital,” an official at the main government hospital in Mirpur told Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Local disaster management officials told Al Jazeera they were still gathering reports from the site of the earthquake, but had received word of damage to infrastructure.

“We have reports of cracks in the roads there,” said disaster management official Ammar Raza Shaikh. 

Tahir Mahmood, a senior police official in Rawalakot, about 80km (50 miles) from Mirpur, said “there is a lot of damage to infrastructure [in Mirpur]”.

“Roads seem to have developed cracks and sunk down. Lots of vehicles were thrown around.”

Troops dispatched

The country’s military spokesman said an “immediate rescue operation” was launched “in aid of civil administration”.

“Army troops with aviation and medical support teams dispatched,” military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted.

Tremors were felt in the eastern city of Lahore, about 270km (170 miles) south, and as far away as the Indian capital of New Delhi (more than 800km (500 miles) away. 

Indian news agency the Press Trust of India reported that people rushed from their homes and offices in panic in several places, including in Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana.

In October 2015, a magnitude 7.5-quake in Pakistan and Afghanistan killed almost 400 people, flattening buildings in rugged terrain that impeded relief efforts.

The country was also hit by a magnitude-7.6 quake on October 8, 2005, that killed more than 73,000 people and left about 3.5 million homeless, mainly in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Additional reporting by Asad Hashim in Islamabad

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