Kabul: An magnitude 7.7 struck Afghanistan on Monday, killing at least 22 and injuring over 120 while leaving several houses destroyed in different provinces. Roofs of dozens of houses and some schools caved in, trapping the students and inhabitants. However, the total casualties could not be confirmed.
The quake rocked the country at 1.30 pm. According to the US Geological Survey, the epicentre of the quake, having a depth of 213.5 km, was Badakhshan province's Juram district.
It was felt in neighbouring countries of Tajikistan, Pakistan and India. The director of seismology at the Indian Meteorological Department, Vineet Gahlot, confirmed magnitude of the earthquake and said the epicenter was deep in the Hindu Kush, Afghanistan. The earthquake lasted for one minute, the Afghan Times reported.
In Takhar province, at least 12 schoolgirls died in a stampede at their school while trying to run out as the quake struck, the Independent reported. The panic-stricken girls were killed while trying to flee the school building.
Spokesman to the Takhar governor, Sanaullah Timuri, said over 30 were also injured including schoolchildren.
Stating that the provincial authorities were working to confirm the casualties and assess the damages, he said over 60 houses were destroyed in different districts of the province.
Initial reports suggested three people were killed and as many wounded, said chief of the Parwan provincial council, Ghulam Haider Jaillani, adding that over 40 houses were destroyed.
Muhammad Farid, a witness in Kabul, said he was in his shop when the powerful earthquake jolted it, causing the walls swaying back and forth.
"People in the shops, hotels, offices and vehicles were running to an open space while reciting verses from the Holy Quran," he added.
Six houses were destroyed in Kabul's Deh Mazang area, local sources said.
Badakhshan province Governor Shah Waliullah said over 400 houses were destroyed and 25 people injured.
Authorities were assessing the damages and casualties, fearing that the casualties could rise.
Residents of different provinces complained that emergency services were too slow to respond to the earthquake. Roofs of dozens of houses and some schools caved in, trapping the students and inhabitants.
Volunteers were seen working in Nangarhar, Parwan, Kabul, Ghazni, Badakhshan, Kapisa and other provinces to provide help. Communication services were disrupted in Kabul. Families of the foreigners were not able to contact their beloved ones in Kabul City.
Spokesman to the provincial governor of Nangarhar, Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, told Afghanistan Times seven people killed and 71 injured in different districts of the province.