West News Wire: Residents of Pakistan-administered Kashmir claim that the earthquake began mildly but then intensified, forcing them to flee their homes.
A resident of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, Mirza Aurangzeb Saifullah, told news reporters, “We observed modest movement at first, which was followed by increased shaking and a strange, shrill noise.
Saifullah claimed that as soon as he left the house, he heard loud prayers being chanted by onlookers in the street.
“That noise set off the 2005 earthquake’s trauma. I was worried that the sound would get louder and the jolts would keep returning, but God was compassionate. Soon, the jolts subsided, Saifullah claimed.
At least 47,000 people died in a magnitude 7.6 earthquake that rocked Pakistan-administered Kashmir and the country’s northwest in 2005.
At least 302 people have been injured in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, rescue officials tell news reporters.
Hospitals in the Swat Valley treated at least 250 patients, of whom 15 suffered minor injuries and more than 200 were unconscious.
Fifty-two people were injured in other parts of the province, officials said.
Several high-rise buildings in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Peshawar have developed cracks due to the earthquake, prompting evacuation orders, according to national and provincial disaster management authorities in Pakistan.
Teams have been sent to ensure evacuations in Rawalpindi, and authorities have been directed to carry out a survey of high-rise buildings across the province, a spokesman for Punjab’s Disaster Management Authority told the Anadolu news agency.
No casualties have been reported from the province so far, he said.
A spokesman for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Disaster Management Authority said that several mudbrick homes have collapsed in remote areas of the province.
Residents in Indian-occupied Kashmir rushed out of their houses as strong tremors were felt in the region. Panic and fear struck them as they recalled last month’s devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
“We were sitting in our home when we saw everything around us shaking. Initially, it was not very powerful but when we rushed outside we saw everyone in the street crying,” Muhammad Yasin, a resident of the main city of Srinagar, told news reporters.
“The images of the devastation from Turkey and Syria are still fresh [in our eyes]. For a moment, we felt it is the end of our world,” he said.
There are no reports of damage or loss of life in the region.