Islamabad, Oct 26: Over 200 people were killed and more than 1,300 others injured today as a powerful 7.5- magnitude earthquake - the strongest in 10 years - rocked Pakistan, sending severe shock waves as far as Punjab and PoK.
The quake's epicentre was located near Jurm in northeast Afghanistan, 250 kilometres from Kabul and at a depth of 213.5 kms, according to the US Geological Survey.
The temblor collapsed buildings, triggered landslides and stampedes, prompting the government to rush army personnel to the affected areas for rescue operations.
Pakistan army chief General Raheel Sharif flew to some affected areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to assess the rescue operation in the region that is the worst hit.
"The army chief has landed at Corps Headquarters in Peshawar. Corps Commander (Peshawar Hidayat-ur-Rehman) has briefed him on damage assessment," Director-General of Pakistan military's media wing ISPR Lt-Gen Asim Bajwa tweeted.
The death toll in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is 170, with 5 killed in Punjab, and 4 in the PoK, Pakistani media reported. Over 1,000 people were injured, 956 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa alone.
Malakand Division in the province is the worst hit with 137 dead. The army chief took aerial view of quake-hit areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and was also briefed about army rescue and relief operation. Bajwa also said that Quick Rapid Forces (QRFs) have spread out in respective areas.
"QRFs are busy in rescue work mainly in Malakand, Dir, Chitral and Bajaur while continuous damage assessment is under way," he added.
The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) has directed the district administration to utilise rescue and relief funds. Emergency has been declared in all government hospitals and food and necessary items were dispatched to the affected areas.
Reportedly, several buildings collapsed in various areas of the province mostly in northern parts in Chitral, Swat, Shangla, Dir and Buner districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) said that the quake hit the country at about 2:09 pm local time.
Several landslides have been reported in mountainous areas of the country, leading to fears that the death toll may increase.
Tremors were also felt in major cities, including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Quetta, Kohat and Malakand.
Forty minutes after the first quake, an aftershock of 4.8 magnitude was reported in the same area. Aftershocks are expected to continue in the affected areas.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed all federal, civil, military and provincial agencies to declare an immediate alert and mobilise all resources to ensure the security of citizens of Pakistan. All agencies have been directed to move out with their resources.
The prime minister also told the Gilgit Baltistan governor to mobilise tribal administration immediately for relief, rescue and damage assessment in the affected regions.
On the directions of the premier, a round-the-clock crisis cell has also been formed to coordinate with all federal, civil, military and provincial agencies for damage assessment and rescue and relief efforts.
The premier also directed the governor to immediately reach Gilgit and take charge of rescue and relief efforts in the region.
A 7.6-magnitude earthquake in 2005 had killed over 73,000 people in Pakistan and left about 3.5 million homeless. However, the destruction then was more as the depth was very shallow.