A major quake, with a preliminary USGS magnitude of 7.5 and a depth of 212km, occurred near the Afghanistan/Pakistan border shortly after 0900 UTC, with reports of strong shaking as far away as Delhi, a thousand kilometers from the epicenter. Some early media reports put the magnitude as high as M8.1.
These early reports are often adjusted – up or down – as more readings come in, but based on the twitter traffic and early reports of damage, this was a major quake.
A decade ago, a similarly sized (albeit, far shallower) quake in Kashmir devastated northern Pakistan, killing more than 85,000 people. While there are reports of power outages and building collapses, the greater depth of this quake will likely help reduce its impact.
Today’s quake comes six months and 1 day after Nepal’s deadly quake (April 25th), which claimed roughly 9,000 lives, and saw some very powerful aftershocks. This region of the world remains one of the most vulnerable to large seismic events due to its large number of heavily populated cities, and relatively poor construction standards.
Luckily, today’s epicenter was some distance from any large urban centers. Preliminary USGS Pager impact estimates show that moderate casualties are likely to have occurred.
Four years ago, in UNDP: Supercities At Seismic Risk, we looked at the growing number of large urban population centers in, or near, active seismic zones. The UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) warned that half of the world’s supercities (urban areas with 2 million – 15 million inhabitants) are at high risk of seismic activity.
Credit Geohazards International