At least 12 people died in the strong earthquake felt on the evening of Tuesday, March 21 in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Near the epicenter of the earthquake, but also in Kabul, fearing the aftershocks of the earthquake, many residents spent the night outside.

It was 21:17 p.m. local time in Afghanistan (16:47 GMT) when the earth shook for long seconds. From Central Asia, the tremors were felt as far away as New Delhi, India.

The epicenter of the 6.5-magnitude earthquake was located in northeastern Afghanistan near the city of Jorm, on the border with Pakistan and Tajikistan, at a depth of 187 km, according to the US Seismological Institute USGS.

In Afghanistan, the authorities on Wednesday recorded three dead and 44 wounded, according to a provisional assessment. Telephone and internet links to remote areas of this poor and largely rural country have been cut off.

Residents flee their homes

Wednesday, in the district of Jorm, epicenter of the quake. Inamullah, a resident of Soch village, told AFP that "between 2,000 and 3,000 people" spent the night outside.

"We were all scared and stayed up all night. There were no casualties, but many houses were damaged. So far, no official has visited us," he said.

In Afghanistan, many families had come out of their homes to celebrate Nowruz, the Persian New Year, when the tremors were felt.

An AFP journalist said several of his neighbours had fled with their children from their apartment building in central Kabul. "They fled without shoes, carrying their children in their hands," he said.

Kabul shopkeeper Noor Ahmad Hanifi had set up three large tents on the street on Tuesday night to shelter his family and neighbors for the night, after fleeing his home.

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake had already killed more than 1,000 people in June 2022 in eastern Afghanistan.

Junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates

In Pakistan, authorities in Khyber Paktuhkhwa province, north of the capital, said Wednesday that nine people had been killed in the quake, including two women and two children.

"This is a powerful earthquake and we feared significant damage due to its intensity. That's why we have issued an alert," Bilal Faizi, spokesman for Pakistan's Rescue 1122 emergency service in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told AFP.

"Fortunately, our fears turned out to be false. Residents panicked because of the magnitude of the earthquake, but the damage was minimal," he added.

The quake occurred in the Hindu Kush mountainous region, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates, said the Euro-Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC), which also recorded a magnitude of 6.5.

With AFP and Reuters

The summary of the week France 24 invites you to look back on the news that marked the week

I subscribe

Take international news with you everywhere! Download the France 24 app