See More on Facebook

Current affairs, Environment

23 dead, more than 300 injured as 5.6-magnitude quake rocks northern Pakistan

Emergency response units are trying to determine the scale of damage.


Written by

Updated: September 25, 2019

A powerful 5.6-magnitude earthquake jolted several cities and northern parts of the country on Tuesday afternoon, leaving at least 23 people dead and over 300 others injured, officials said. At least 100 of those injured are in a critical state.

The tremors lasted for 8-10 seconds and were felt strongly, DawnNewsTV reported.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is currently in the US to attend the United Nations General Assembly, has expressed his grief over the loss of human life. Both he and Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa have issued directives to civilian and military agencies for emergency rescue and relief efforts.

The epicentre of the shallow quake, which hit just after 4pm, was near the Azad Kashmir city of Mirpur, roughly 20 kilometres north of Jhelum in Punjab, according to data released by the US Geological Survey.

“The quake was 10 kilometres deep and was felt in most of Punjab province and some parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The worst hit was Mirpur, Azad Kashmir,” chief meteorologist Muhammad Riaz told AFP.

Other cities where tremors were felt included Islamabad, Mirpur, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Sialkot, Sargodha, Mansehra, Gujrat, Chitral, Malakand, Multan, Shangla, Bajaur, Swat, Sahiwal and Rahim Yar Khan.

Mirpur Deputy Inspector General of Police Sardar Gulfraz Khan said at least 23 people, three of them young children, were reported to have died and more than 300 others wounded due to the quake. The casualties were shifted to Divisional Headquarters Hospital Mirpur. At least 10 people died in Jatlan village alone.

Mirpur Divisional Commissioner Chaudhry Muhammad Tayyab said among the people being treated for their wounds, at least 35 have sustained critical injuries. The chief of the National Disaster Management Authority later put the number of critical injuries at around 100.

According to the NDMA chief, the nearby Mangla Dam, one of the country’s two main water reservoirs, was unaffected by the quake.

Earlier, AJK Minister for Sports, Youth and Culture Chaudhry Mohammad Saeed had told Dawn that a state of emergency had been declared in state-run and private hospitals in Mirpur.

Saeed, who had returned from Mirpur city, said most of the injured were from the outskirts of Mirpur, such as Afzalpur, Jatlan and New City.

“People were panicked in the beginning, but they have gradually started adjusting themselves with the situation,” he added.

He revealed that pharmacies in Mirpur are offering free medicines to the victims, in a gesture of humanity.

AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, who was in Lahore since Monday to attend Kashmir-related events, cut short his visit and rushed to Mirpur “to supervise rescue, relief and rehabilitation services”, his office said in a statement.

“The prime minister has directed all government departments to leave no stone unturned in helping out victims of this […] natural disaster,” the statement added.

‘Devastating earthquake’

Photos and video carried by TV channels showed dozens of collapsed buildings and homes, uprooted trees and cracks in roads large enough to swallow cars in Mirpur.

Muhammad Safdar, 60, who lives near Mirpur, said he was in his house when it suddenly started shaking. “We saw walls and the roof developing cracks and ceiling fans and other articles falling down, and we rushed out into an open field,” he told Reuters by telephone. “I have never seen such a devastating earthquake in this area in my life.”

Ramzan Ahmad, 65, who suffered a head injury and bleeding nose, said that he was with his family of seven when his house collapsed.

“We all got injuries,” he said. “I saw dozens of houses razed on my way to hospital.”

Mirpur, a city known for its palatial houses, has strong ties to Britain with the majority of its 450,000 residents carrying both British and Pakistani passports.

A spokeswoman at the British High Commission told AFP they were monitoring the reports, while the US embassy offered its sympathies to those affected via Twitter.

Tremors felt in India

Tremors were felt as far as New Delhi, while the Press Trust of India reported that panicked people rushed out of their homes and offices in panic in several places, including in Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana. According to DNA India, the quake was also felt in parts of Indian-occupied Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh.

“The earthquake was felt but there are no reports of any damage,” Amir Ali, from the disaster management department in occupied Kashmir, told AFP.

With occupied Kashmir’s mobile and internet services mostly cut off after the region’s autonomy was stripped by New Delhi in early August, people used social media to express fears about not being able to get in touch with their families in the valley.

“Dear @AmitShah (Home Affairs Minister) please restore mobile services in Kashmir I do not know any update since Aug 5 about my family. We are now feeling so anxious about our family in aftermath of Earthquake,” Faizan Peer tweeted.

Rescue efforts

The military’s media wing had tweeted soon after the quake that Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has issued directions for troops to conduct an “immediate rescue operation” in aid of the civil administration for victims.

Army troops with aviation and medical support teams have been dispatched to the area, the statement had said.

In a later update, Inter-Services Public Relations said Pakistan Army aviation helicopters had completed aerial reconnaissance for damage assessment in Mirpur, Jarikas and Jatlan areas. Army troops have also reached these areas. “Relief and rescue efforts [are] underway,” it added.

Prime Minister Imran, in a statement from New York, “expressed his profound sorrow over the damage and loss of precious lives” caused by the earthquake.

People stand outside a building in Lahore after the earthquake. — DawnNewsTV

The premier also instructed the relevant departments to provide all possible assistance for relief in the disaster-struck areas.

The National Disaster Management Authority has also been instructed to speed up its relief operations in all areas hit by the earthquake.

Mangla Dam ‘safe’

A Wapda spokesperson said Mangla Dam and its powerhouse have not suffered any damage in the quake.

“A team of experts has reached the site to conduct a detailed damage assessment and will prepare a report. They have, in the meanwhile, declared the site as safe and have reported no damage,” DawnNewsTV quoted him as saying.

According to the spokesperson, the earthquake caused the turbine water to become polluted which is why it was turned off.

Power generation will resume as soon as the water and turbines are cleaned, he said.

Pakistan’s vulnerability

Pakistan straddles part of the boundary where the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, making the country particularly susceptible to earthquakes.

In October 2015, a 7.5-magnitude quake in Pakistan and Afghanistan had killed almost 400 people, flattening buildings in rugged terrain, which impeded relief efforts.

The country was also hit by a 7.6-magnitude quake on October 8, 2005, which killed more than 73,000 people and left about 3.5 million homeless, mainly in AJK.

Social media updates

People in the capital and other cities took to social media to share how they experienced the earthquake.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Asia News Network
About the Author: ANN members comprise The Korea Herald, China Daily, China Post (Taiwan), Gogo Mongolia, Yomiuri Shimbun and The Japan News, Dawn (Pakistan), The Statesman (India), The Island (Sri Lanka), Kuensel (Bhutan), Kathmandu Post (Nepal), Daily Star (Bangladesh), Eleven Media (Myanmar), The Nation (Thailand), Jakarta Post, The Star and Sin Chew Daily (Malaysia), the Phnom Penh Post and Rasmei Kampuchea (Cambodia), The Borneo Bulletin (Brunei), The Straits Times (Singapore), Vietnam News, Philippine Daily Inquirer and Vientiane Times (Laos).

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Current affairs, Environment

Japan: Koizumi offers no concrete plan on coal

The new environment minister needs to offer better ways to tackle climate change.  During a ministerial meeting of the U.N. climate summit in Madrid on Wednesday, Shinjiro Koizumi, the Environment Minister did not express concrete steps for reducing coal-fired thermal power generation. Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi did not express concrete steps for reducing coal-fired thermal power generation, for which construction of new plants is currently underway in Japan, during a ministerial meeting of the U.N. climate summit in Madrid on Wednesday. “I am afraid I cannot share new development on our coal policy today,” Koizumi said at the ongoing 25th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate


By The Japan News
December 13, 2019

Current affairs, Environment

Myanmar running out of time to cope with climate change, warns historian Thant Myint-U

Myanmar is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the effects of climate change and is grossly unprepared to deal with the consequences. WASHINGTON – Myanmar is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the effects of climate change, and is grossly unprepared to deal with the consequences, warns historian Dr Thant Myint-U. The Myanmar historian, author and conservationist was in the United States recently to speak on his most recent book examining race, capitalism and the crisis of democracy in Myanmar titled “The Hidden History of Burma”. In an interview for the online video and podcast Asian Insider, Dr Thant told The Straits Times the threat of climate change tipped his ledger towards pessimism about the country’s future. “I think whatever we think of the ledger in general, perhaps it comes to 50/50,” he said. “When you add on


By The Straits Times
December 9, 2019

Current affairs, Environment

SAARC turns 35 but has very little to show for its age

The regional bloc of seven South Asian countries and Afghanistan has largely been held hostage to the rivalry between India and Pakistan, say analysts. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation might have turned 35 but its three-and-a-half decades of existence has largely failed to advance its own central tenet—regional cooperation. As SAARC marked its 35th anniversary with a flurry of congratulatory messages from heads of government, expressing their commitment to regional cooperation, many analysts and diplomats wonder if these promises will ever translate into action. The regional association has failed to hold its 19th summit, ever since 2016 when India sud


By The Kathmandu Post
December 9, 2019

Current affairs, Environment

Climate Change: Bangladesh 7th worst-hit nation

The country is at risk from cyclones and flooding. Bangladesh is seventh among the 10 countries worst hit by extreme weather events, says a global climate report. Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti top the list which has three South Asian countries and seven Asian nations, according to the Global Climate Risk Index (CRI) 2020 that analysed data from 1999 and 2018. Germanwatch, a Berlin based non-profit environmental research organisation, released the report yesterday on the sidelines of The Conference of the Parties (COP-25) meet in Madrid, Spain. In the previous report that examined data between 1998 and 2017, Bangladesh was at the ninth position. The study looked at four indicators — death toll, number of events, loss of property of each person and loss of gross domestic product. The CRI 2020 is based on the loss figures of 181 countries, it said. The report also said Japan, th


By Daily Star
December 5, 2019

Current affairs, Environment

Typhoon Tisoy touches down in the Philippines

The typhoon may affect the Southeast Asian games which is currently underway. Typhoon Tisoy slightly weakened early Tuesday morning as it bears down on Burias Island but it remains strong and destructive, the weather bureau reported. In its 5 a.m. Severe Weather Bulletin, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said that Tisoy’s eyewall is currently bringing violent winds and intense rainfall over Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, and Masbate. Its eyewall is also expected to affect Southern Quezon, Romblon, and Marinduque in the next three hours. Frequent to continuous heavy to intense (with isolated torrential) rains will be experienced in the Bicol Region, Romblon, Marinduque, Mindoro Provinces, Calabarzon, Metro Manila, Bataan, Pampanga and Bulacan between Tuesday early morning and late afternoon, Pagasa said. Occasional to frequent heavy


By Philippine Daily Inquirer
December 3, 2019

Current affairs, Environment

Why Hong Kong residents turned out in record numbers to vote

Many say events of past 5 months galvanised their desire to exercise their democratic right. Amid mild autumn weather and under a clear blue sky in Lek Yuen, the oldest public housing estate in Hong Kong’s Sha Tin, a snaking queue formed outside the community hall shortly after dawn yesterday. It was the constituency’s polling station of the day, and hundreds were in the line before the opening time of 7.30am to vote for their district councillor, one of the lowest rungs of Hong Kong’s elected offices. The scene was repeated across the territory’s 18 districts, where nearly three million people showed up to vote in elections that are usually a quiet affair, with chosen officials confined to dealing with noise complaints and local infrastructure improvement projects. The officials, however, also represent 117 of the 1,200-strong Election Committee that chooses the city̵


By The Straits Times
November 25, 2019