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Earthquake kills 22 in Pakistan Kashmir

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — A strong earthquake shook northern Pakistan on Tuesday, killing 22 people, injuring about 200, destroying buildings and cracking roads, a government and police official said.

Pakistan
File Reuters

Photos and video footage aired by local media showed dozens of buildings, collapsed houses, uprooted trees and cracks on roads, some so wide that cars could be swallowed up in the nearby Indian town of Mirpur in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

A man named Mohammad Safdar, 60, who lives near Mirpur, said he was at home when he began to shake by surprise.

“We saw cracks in the walls, the roof, ceiling fans and other things falling down and we ran out into an open yard,” he told Reuters by telephone.

“I have never seen such a devastating earthquake in this region all my life,” he said.

The US Geological Survey said the quake, which measured 5.8 on the Richter scale, struck 23 km north of Jhelum in Pakistan at a relatively small depth of about 10 km.

Mohammad Tayyeb, a government official in Mirpur district, and district police chief Irfan Salim, said 22 people had been killed and about 200 wounded.

General Mohammad Afzal, head of Pakistan’s National Disaster Response Commission, told reporters in Islamabad that he could confirm 10 deaths.

Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, spokesman for Pakistan Armed Forces, said on Twitter that troops from the army, along with aviation and medical support teams, had been sent to the area.

Afzal added that the rescue operation will take a day or two, adding that the Authority will distribute blankets, tents and kitchenware to the victims.

“Our focus now is to speed up the rescue operation,” Raja Farooq Haider, the chief minister of Azad Kashmir, told GNN television. There are people who are stuck and in need of urgent help.

“We combine all our resources to provide the best possible assistance to people.”

Afzal said most of the damage occurred in the area between Jhelum and Mirpur. Jhelum is in northeastern Pakistan, about 120 km southeast of Islamabad.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan is deeply concerned about the damage caused by the earthquake and directs all departments to provide urgent assistance,” the government said on Twitter.

The latest major earthquake in Kashmir in 2005 killed more than 80,000 people.

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