An earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale has rocked Pakistan, causing the deaths of at least 19 people. The epicenter of the shock was felt very close to the city of Mirpur, in the contested region of Kashmir.
Images have emerged of houses completely destroyed and main highways cracked down the middle. While final numbers on the dead and injured have not yet been determined, it is understood that children are among the victims, according to the BBC.
Kashmir is a contended territory with both Pakistani and Indian regions and has recently fallen victim to a military offensive at the hands of Indian troops. The village of Sahankikri was one of the worst affected, with almost all the 400 houses suffering damage. “We are shelterless now,” said local resident Shamraiz Akhtar, according to the Guardian.
“I was sitting in my shop when suddenly the walls started swaying,” another victim explained. “I knew that it is a strong earthquake. The moment I came out of my shop, its roof caved in.”
Despite the severity of the quake, the chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NSMA) hinted at a lower death toll and urged calm.
“I can confirm 10 deaths and the number of wounded is 100,” Lieutenant General Mohammad Afzal detailed. “Things are under control.”
“Our whole concentration right now is to accelerate the rescue operation,” Raja Farooq Haider, prime minister of Azad Kashmir told a local TV station, according to the Independent. “There are people who are stuck there and who need immediate help. We are putting in all our resources to get people the best of our help.”
In response to the disaster, Pakistani Armed Forces spokesman, Major General Asif Ghafoor, tweeted that "Army troops with aviation and medical support” had been sent to the affected areas.
COAS directs immediate rescue operation in aid of civil administration for victims of earthquake in AJK. Army troops with aviation and medical support teams dispatched.— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) September 24, 2019
Back in 2005, roughly 87,000 people perished after a 7.8 magnitude quake struck Kashmir – approximately 138,000 were injured and over three million displaced.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Stringer