A powerful earthquake rocked southwest Pakistan on Wednesday, sending panicked people rushing from their homes in fear of their lives and being felt as far away as India and the Gulf.
The 7.2 magnitude quake struck at 1:23 am (2023 GMT Tuesday), around 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of the town of Dalbandin, close to the border with Afghanistan, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.
Data on the USGS website suggested the quake had also been felt across in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Tremors were felt across most of the northern emirates, including Dubai with many residents running out of their homes and apartments.
Rahman Salim a Sharjah resident last night told Emirates 247 that he felt the tremors and within seconds heard people in the building running out. “Very soon several others gathered outside. People only returned back after waiting out for more than half an hour. It was pretty cold as well,” said Salim.
Mohammed PK a taxi driver in Sharjah, also said he saw many residents out on the streets. I was driving towards Rolla and was initially surprised as to why people had gathered out. Later I was told of the tremors,” he said.
Within just two hours after the incident, United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) Earthquake Hazards Program website had about 137 responses from Dubai and another 40 from Abu Dhabi, apart from Al Ain, Ras Al Khaima and Fujairah.
Twitter too was abuzz with tweets from those sharing the experiences. @AakankshaT tweeted saying, “says tremors barely felt in Dubai. and spoke to dad, all good. :)” @Haneen243 wrote, “@AmmarMa yess ! In dubai, sharjah and Ajman ... Its all over twitter and facebook, lots of ppl felt it2 ! May god protect ppl of pakistan.”
The tremors were felt as far away as the Indian capital New Delhi, around 1,300 kilometres (850 miles) away, as well as several other cities across northwestern India, though there were no reports of any damage.
Television footage showed terrified people fleeing their houses in cold conditions, reciting verses from the Koran.
Rescue services said that they were on alert after the quake in the sparsely populated area but had received no emergency calls and there were no initial reports of casualties.
The USGS said the quake had a magnitude of 7.2 and hit at a depth of 84 kilometres, revising down an earlier report of 7.4-magnitude.
The initial bulletin from USGS said the earthquake hit just 10 kilometres below the surface. At that depth, quakes can cause major destruction and loss of life.
Pakistan's Meteorological Department gave a magnitude of 7.3 and located the epicentre 55 kilometres northwest of Kharan, a town in the thinly populated southwestern Baluchistan province, which borders Iran and Afghanistan.
"The earthquake occurred at around 1:23 am and it was felt in Baluchistan, Sindh and southern Punjab provinces," chief meteorologist Mohammad Riaz told AFP.
"There could be aftershocks during the next week - there are active fault lines in Baluchistan."
The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no chance of the inland quake causing a tsunami in the Indian Ocean.
Northern Pakistan was hit by a 7.6-magnitude earthquake on October 8, 2005 that killed more than 73,000 people and left about 3.5 million homeless, mainly in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The country is still battling back from the devastating effects of floods last year.
Catastrophic monsoon rains that swept north to south in July and August affected 21 million people, consumed entire villages, wiped out agricultural land and destroyed industries.