(Jurm) At least 13 people died in the earthquake felt Tuesday night mostly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a far cry from the massive casualties the region is used to after such a forceful quake.
It was 9:17 p.m. local time in Afghanistan (12:47 p.m. Eastern Time) when the earth shook for long seconds on Tuesday evening. Of magnitude 6.5, the earthquake occurred in the mountainous region of the Hindu Kush, near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.
On Wednesday, in the district of Jorm in Afghanistan, epicenter of the earthquake, “between 2,000 and 3,000 people” spent the night outside, testifies Inamullah, a resident of the village of Soch.
“ We were all scared and stayed up all night […] It was cold, but we were so scared and horrified that we didn’t even feel the cold”, explains this 40-year-old farmer.
“ We don’t know where to live anymore. No one gave us tents and no one came to visit us to inquire about our situation,” lamented Saeed Mayideen, another village farmer, on Wednesday.
The epicenter was located in northeast Afghanistan on the border with Pakistan and Tajikistan, and at a depth of 187 km, according to the USGS Seismological Institute.
Afghan authorities on Wednesday recorded four dead, including a baby and 75 injured, according to a provisional report.
“As we were leaving, a wall collapsed. One of our children lost his life and the other three were injured,” the father of the deceased girl a few months old, Abdul Baseer, a resident of Laghman province, told AFP.
Some 150 houses were partially or totally destroyed and two people died in this eastern province of Afghanistan, according to Khair Mohammad Ghazi, director of disaster management.
Telephone and internet connections to the remote regions of this poor and largely rural country have been cut, which makes communication difficult, but the toll, still provisional, is far from reaching that of last June.
A magnitude 5.9 earthquake claimed the lives of more than 1,000 Afghans and left tens of thousands homeless. This earthquake, which struck the poor province of Paktika (southeast), remains the deadliest in the country for almost a quarter of a century.
In Turkey and Syria, last month’s earthquake killed more than 55,000 people.
Many families had come out of their homes to celebrate Nowruz, the Persian New Year, when the tremors were felt.
In Kabul, the inhabitants fled with their children from the buildings, noted an AFP journalist. “ They fled without shoes, carrying their children in their hands ”, he said.
“When the earthquake started, I thought maybe I was dizzy from my long trip,” explained Noor Ahmad Hanif, who had just completed a thirteen-hour journey by car.
“ But when I heard the sound of doors, windows and glass, I understood that it was an earthquake ”.
In Pakistan, authorities in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, north of the capital, announced on Wednesday that nine people had been killed in the earthquake, including two women and two children.
“This is a powerful earthquake and we feared significant damage due to its intensity,” Bilal Faizi, spokesman for the Pakistani emergency service Rescue 1122 in the province, told AFP.
“Fortunately, our fears turned out to be wrong. The inhabitants panicked because of the magnitude of the earthquake, but the damage was minimal,” he added.
“The whole house started shaking,” said Ikhlaq Kazmi, a retired teacher in Rawalpindi, a city in northern Pakistan.
“The children started shouting that there was an earthquake. We all ran out,” continued the resident marked by the “”horrors”” of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.