A strong earthquake, lasting for at least 30 seconds, was felt across much of Pakistan on Tuesday night. Witnesses reported people running out of their houses and reciting the Koran in cities like Rawalpindi, Islamabad, and Lahore.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported a 6.5 magnitude earthquake in the far northeast of Afghanistan, near the country's border with Pakistan, at a depth of about 116 miles. The earthquake was also felt in bordering Tajikistan and as far away as Delhi, India, where people took to social media to share their experiences.
At least 12 people were injured in northwest Pakistan due to the quake. Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif released a statement saying that he had asked disaster management officials to remain vigilant and prepared to handle any situation that might arise.
The quake killed at least two people in Afghanistan's northeastern Laghman province, where at least eight more people were injured, according to Shafiullah Rahimi, spokesman for the Ministry of Disaster Management. In northern Pakistan, at least three people have died, including two children, according to Bilal Faizi, spokesperson for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial rescue services.
Although the USGS initially assessed a "low likelihood" of damage or casualties based on the earthquake's location and strength, Afghanistan's public health ministry ordered the deployment of resources to potentially affected areas in the northern part of the country. Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesperson for the government in Afghanistan, said in a tweet that no casualties had been reported an hour after the quake, but health centers across the country were placed on standby as a precaution.
Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, particularly in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. In June of last year, a 5.9-magnitude quake struck the impoverished province of Paktika, killing over 1,000 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless. It was the deadliest earthquake in Afghanistan in nearly a quarter of a century.