Updated: September 24, 2019 10:06:52 pm
At least 20 people were killed and more than 300 others injured after a 5.8-magnitude earthquake rocked several cities in the northern parts of Pakistan, including capital Islamabad, news agency PTI reported.
According to US Geological Survey, the epicentre of the quake was near New Mirpur in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. However, Pakistan Meteorological Department’s earthquake centre said the quake was located near the mountainous city of Jehlum in Punjab province with a depth of 10 kilometres.
The 5.8 magnitude quake occurred sometime after 4 pm and lasted for 8-10 seconds. However, Minister for Science Fawad Chaudhry said that the intensity of the quake was 7.1.
Several cities including Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Skardu, Kohat, Charsadda, Kasur, Faisalabad, Gujrat, Sialkot, Abbottabad, Mansehra, Chitral, Malakand, Multan, Shangla, Okara, Nowshera, Attock, and Jhang felt the tremor.
The quake was powerful and created panic as people ran out of the building, eyewitnesses told PTI. Mirpur Deputy Commissioner Raja Qaiser said some houses and a mosque collapsed following the earthquake. TV channels showed the footage of heavily damaged roads in Mirpur, with many vehicles overturned.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is currently in the US to attend the United Nations General Assembly, expressed his grief over the loss of human life. Both he and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa have issued directives to civilian and military agencies for emergency rescue and relief efforts.
In a press conference, National Disaster Management Authority Chairman Lt Gen Mohammad Afzal said he could confirm the deaths of only 10 people so far. He also said most of the damage was done in Mirpur and Jhelum. “We are assessing the damage to life and property,” he said.
Mangla Dam power house in Mirpur, one of Pakistan’s major source of electricity, has been closed, cutting off 900 MW power supply to the national grid, Afzal told Dawn.
The Mangla Dam, however, was not affected by the quake, Afzal said. “The water is being released in a highly regulated manner because if more than 50,000 cusecs are released in Jhelum and PD Khan, flooding can occur. So a volume of less than 50,000 cusecs is being released,” he said.
However, upper Jhelum canal was damaged and water inundated various villages.
A state of emergency has been declared in state-run and private hospitals in Mirpur, Minister for Sports, Youth and Culture Chaudhry Mohammad Saeed told Dawn. He also said that pharmacies in Mirpur were offering free medicines to the victims.
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