At least 135 dead after strong earthquake hits Afghanistan, Pakistan
- Magnitude 7.5 earthquake centred in NE Afghanistan
- Communications cut off in many mountainous areas
- Area is prone to seismic activity due to tectonic plates
In Pakistan, 102 deaths were reported by early evening, most in northern and northwestern regions bordering Afghanistan, officials told Reuters.
Particularly hard-hit in Pakistan was the northern area of Chitral, where 20 people were killed, police official Shah Jehan said. The death toll was likely to rise because so many areas were cut off from communications, he said.
Journalist Gul Hammad Farooqi, 47, said his house had collapsed. "I was thrown from one side of the road to the other by the strength of the earthquake. I've never experienced anything like it," he said.
"There is a great deal of destruction here, and my house has collapsed, but thankfully my children and I escaped."
Further south, the city of Peshawar reported two deaths but at least 150 injured people were being treated at the city's main hospital, the provincial health chief said.
In Afghanistan, international aid agencies working in northern areas reported that cell phone coverage in the affected areas remained down in the hours after the initial quake.
"The problem is we just don't know. A lot of the phone lines are still down," said Scott Anderson, deputy head of office for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Kabul.
Badakhshan provincial governor Shah Waliullah Adib said about 400 houses were destroyed but he had no figures on casualties.
"Right now we are collecting information," he said.
The earthquake struck almost exactly six months after Nepal suffered its worst quake on record on April 25. Including the toll from a major aftershock in May, 9,000 people lost their lives and 900,000 homes were damaged or destroyed there.
The Hindu Kush mountain region is seismically active, with earthquakes the result of the Indian subcontinent driving into and under the Eurasian landmass. Sudden tectonic shifts can cause enormous and destructive releases of energy.