New Delhi: A 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the Iran-Pakistan border on Tuesday afternoon, killing at least 40 people in Iran and 13 in Pakistan, reports said. The epicentre of the quake lay 86 km east-south east of Khash, Iran, near the country's border with Pakistan, the US Geological Survey (USGS) website said. Experts say that this is the worst earthquake to have hit Iran in the past 40 years. A state of emergency was declared in Saravan region of Iran in the aftermath of the quake.
According to Iran state television, power and communications were down in the southeast region, but its nuclear facilities were safe. The Russian company that built the Bushehr nuclear power plant said there was no damage from the quake.
The tremors of the quake were felt across North India, Pakistan and West Asia.
In Karachi, Pakistan, the worst affected areas were Clifton, near the Arabian coastal area, and the densely populated Gulistan-e-Jauhar area where there are hundreds of high-rise buildings.
"I felt the whole building shaking. It was very scary. There were one or two powerful jolts," Abbas, an employee of the Geo news channel, said as he rushed out of the building. Television channels reported that jolts were also witnessed in Hyderabad city, Quetta, Peshawar and other parts of the country.
"People started praying and there was plenty of panic but we tried to keep things calm," traffic constable Ahmed said. Announcements from mosques in different parts of the city appealed to the people to come out of their houses, offices and shops, into open spaces.
The earthquake originated 15.2 km underneath the earth's surface, experts said.
According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the quake struck at about 4:14 pm (IST). "Today evening at 4.14 pm there was an earthquake. The epicentre is in Iran-Pakistan border. The magnitude is 7.8. Entire North India felt the quake," RS Dattatreya said. He added that an aftershock of 6.3 magnitude was felt at 4.24 pm.
In India, strong tremors were reported from across Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, New Delhi, Western Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the National Capital Region (NCR). The tremors lasted for over 45 seconds.
"I was inside my office in Connaught Place. I felt the chair trembling and rushed out of office," Priya Dev, a chartered accountant in Delhi, said.
A police officer in Jaipur, Rajasthan, said, "There are reports of tremors from different parts of the state though initially there is no report of loss to life or property."
Western, central and southern parts of Gujarat also felt the tremors. "There are no immediate reports of damage," Birju patel, deputy director of the Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority, said.
India's nuclear plants at Rawatbhatta in Rajasthan and Narora in Uttar Pradesh were safe, said officials.
Earlier in the day, a moderate quake shook Arunachal Pradesh. The tremors measuring 5 on the Richter Scale was recorded at 2:04 pm with epicentre on India (Arunachal Pradesh)-China border. An eight-year-old child was killed in a mudslide in Assam, which was rocked twice today and was also felt in other Northeastern states and Odisha.
Last Tuesday, an earthquake measuring magnitude 6.3 struck 89 km (55 miles) southeast of the city of Bushehr in Iran, where the country's only nuclear power station is located. The Iranian Seismological Centre at the University of Tehran reported a quake of 6.1 magnitude whose epicenter was Kaki, around 60 miles south of Bushehr, a port city on the Gulf.
Witnesses felt the quake across the Gulf in Dubai, and Twitter users in Bahrain reported that offices in Manama had been evacuated after it struck.
The USGS said the quake struck at 1152 GMT at a depth of 10 km. It killed at least 30 people and injured 800.
With additional information from PTI