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6.1 Magnitude Quake Rattles Northern Afghanistan

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

The quake hit at 0707 GMT near Afghanistan's northern border with Tajikistan in the Hindu Kush mountains at a depth of 191 kilometres (119 miles), the US Geological Survey said.

Frightened residents ran out of homes and shops following the tremor in Kabul, where the city is already on edge after more than 130 people have been in 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.

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 reported injured in southwest Pakistan's Balochistan province, following the collapse of a roof on their home, a local official said.

Pakistan officials also dispatched teams in Balochistan and nearby Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to assess reports of damage.

However Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority did not expect serious losses, a spokesman said.

The epicentre was near Afghanistan's Jarm, which was hit by a devastating 7.5 magnitude quake in October 2015 that triggered landslides and flattened buildings, killing more than 380 people across the region.

The bulk of the recorded casualties were in Pakistan, where 248 people were killed, including 202 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and more than 1,600 injured.

Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies 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 recurring natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and landslides.

But deteriorating security has seen international NGOs such as the Red Cross and Save the Children downgrade their operations across the country, making it even more difficult to deliver crucial help to its most vulnerable citizens.

Source: Agence France Presse


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