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19 killed as powerful earthquake jolts Pakistan

Pakistan’s Meteorological Department said the epicentre of the 5.8 magnitude quake was near the mountainous city of Jehlum in eastern Punjab.

People stand outside their office after an earthquake is felt in Islamabad (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
People stand outside their office after an earthquake is felt in Islamabad (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

By Munir Ahmed, Associated Press

A powerful 5.8 magnitude earthquake has struck north-east Pakistan, damaging dozens of homes and shops and killing at least 19 people and injuring more than 300, officials said.

According to state-run Pakistan Television, four children were among the dead in Mirpur, a town in the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir.

Raja Qaiser, a deputy commissioner in the region, said rescuers were still taking victims to hospitals in the city, where an emergency was declared.

He said a main road near Mirpur was also badly damaged, causing accidents and damaging buses and other vehicles.

TV footage showed damaged homes, shops and vehicles in Mirpur, where a breach at a main canal was submerging villages.

According to Pakistan’s Meteorological Department, the epicentre of the quake was near the mountainous city of Jehlum in eastern Punjab province. The tremor shook walls across the country and left people waiting in the streets fearing further tremors.

Residents in Islamabad were seen rushing out of multi-storey buildings into the streets.

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People gather outside an office building in Islamabad (Anjum Naveed/AP)

Shortly after the tremor hit, Pakistan’s military dispatched troops and medical teams to the affected area to assist civilian authorities.

Officials said helicopters will be used if needed to evacuate people from the affected area.

Mushtaq Minhas, information minister in Pakistan-held Kashmir, told reporters that rescuers were still using ambulances to take the injured to hospitals.

Prime minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi in separate statements expressed their grief over losses caused by the quake.

The tremor was also felt in the north west and in many towns and cities in eastern Punjab province.

A magnitude 7.6 quake in 2005 killed thousands of people in Pakistan and Kashmir.

PA

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