A deadly earthquake hit Afghanistan and Pakistan on Monday afternoon, registering a preliminary 7.5 magnitude and lasting for two minutes, causing heavy damage in one of the world’s most impoverished and war-torn regions, the New York Times reported, adding that the quake was centered in the Hindu Kush mountain range, about 160 miles northeast of Kabul, the Afghan capital, and its effects were felt as far away as New Delhi, India.
The country’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, called an emergency meeting of senior officials to respond to the disaster, the Times reported. “This is the strongest earthquake that has happened in our country in recent years,” Mr. Abdullah was quoted in the article.
Pakistani Army troops were ordered to provide relief to any people affected by the quake, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asked rescue workers to be on alert, the Times claimed.
“Casualties are still streaming in,” Jameel Shah, a spokesman for Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, the biggest city in Pakistan’s northwest, was quoted by the Wall Street Journal. “We have declared a state of emergency.”
The most recent death toll of 180 casualties was reported by the Guardian, but that figure is expected to rise significantly.
Earlier this year, a series of quakes killed at least 9,000 in Nepal, and 10 years ago, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake in northeastern Pakistan killed more than 70,000, according to the Wall Street Journal, which added that Afghanistan is ill-equipped to respond to natural disasters due to war and the mountainous terrain.