Strong Earthquake Strikes Afghanistan, Tremors Felt All Over Central Asia, as Far as Bhutan

October 26, 2015

A strong earthquake measuring 7.7M rattled the Afghanistan-Pakistan border on 1:36 PM Kabul time today. The tremors were felt all over central Asia, with shockwaves reaching as far as Kathmandu and Bhutan in the east. Shaking was also felt in the United Arab Emirates, more than 2,200 km away southwest.

Update: The death toll has crossed 130 in 6 hours, with over 800 injured. The total number of casualties have reached 230.


Map showing epicenter of the earthquake in northern Afghanistan

Photo from USGS

The epicenter is located some 256 km away from the Afghanistani capital Kabul – near Jarm in north-eastern Afghanistan. Centered around the Hindu Kush mountains, the region is a host to large earthquakes with deep focus.

Video: A TV presenter in Kabul’s Ariana News Channel is seen leaving the set as the floor beneath him rumbles.

Pakistan Shakes

An amateur footage shot in Rawalpindi, Pakistan – 417km away from Kabul, shows a bridge shaking violently in the earthquake.

Video: Metro Bridge in Rawalpindi shakes

Twitter users and testimonies in EMSC report strong shaking all over Pakistan and Northern India. The Delhi Metro Rail Service was halted as a result and tall buildings were evacuated. Communication systems have reportedly stopped in parts of Pakistan including Islamabad.

Video: People in New Delhi, India rush out of offices

According to the United States Geological Survey, the earthquake was 213 km deep and a moderate depth earthquake. Although deep earthquakes like these don’t cause high ground motion, the buildings in the location are not seismically strong. Reports of damages and casualties along Pakistan have started breaking out on Twitter. A building has reportedly been collapsed in Peshawar and landslides have been reported in Baltistan, Pakistan.

Light tremors also felt in Kathmandu, Nepal; as far as Bhutan

1400 km away from the epicenter, two minor shakes were felt in Kathmandu at an interval of 30-40 seconds. Testimonies reported to European-Mediterranean Seismic Center’s LastQuake app shows reports even from Bhutan.

Earthquake was intermediate-depth, probability of thousand deaths

The initial M7.7 magnitude was later downgraded to M7.5. Early assessment and modelling by USGS shows there is a one-third chance of 1,000 deaths and another one-third chance of 10,000 deaths. It also stresses that past events like these have required responses on international levels.

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