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Strong earthquake kills 19, injures over 300; Upper Jhelum Canal breached; Mangla reservoir safe.

ISLAMABAD -- A strong earthquake, measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale, Tuesday shook parts of parts of northern Pakistan, killing at least 19, causing damage to buildings, rupturing roads and injuring several hundred people, according to initial reports.

The strong quake caused a breach in the Upper Jhelum Canal, inundating a number of villages along the Jatlan Road, around 140 kilometers south of Islamabad, Correspondent from Mirpur, Azad Kashmir, Altaf Rao reported.

Quoting district headquarter hospital sources and the officials at the Control Room, he said the number of the injured was increasing.

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt. Gen. Mohammad Afzal, in a press conference, confirmed 10 deaths and about 100 persons suffering from serious injuries.

"In Mirpur, besides the city, there is a small town Jatla, and two small villages Manda and Afzalpur, which were among the worst hit areas," he added.

On the other hand, according to initial estimates, Deputy Inspector General of Police Mirpur said the death toll had risen to 19 and the number of injured to over 300.

According to a statement of spokesman for Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), the earthquake did not cause any damage to the Mangla Dam reservoir and its power house.

The turbine operations at the Mangla power house resumed after brief suspension, and it resumed providing 700MW power to the national grid, it added.

Earlier, it said due to earthquake, water in the reservoir was turned muddy and as a safety measure, turbine operations at the Mangla power plant were turned off.

The statement further said the data was being collected from the installed equipment for a detailed review and report.

Several buildings had been damaged, and rescue teams were responding to emergency calls in different localities. The government and private health facilities were treating the injured.

Medical Superintendent of the DHQ Hospital Mirpur Dr Farooq Noor feared the number of deaths might rise as there was a steady increase in the number of injured.

Reports from Jatlan said wide ruptures were reported on roads, plunging several vehicles, traveling on the road into the fissures, while large cracks appeared in adjoining fields.

The earthquake also severely damaged two pedestrian bridges over the canal, making it difficult for the locals to cross over.

According to the geological experts at the country's Met Office and the United States Geological Survey, the epicenter was 19.3 km north of Jhelum, 22.3 km north of Sarai Alamgir, 34.1 km north west of Kharian, 142.8km south of of Muzaffarabad and 32.7 km west of Bhimbar, Azad Kashmir, with a depth of only 10 km, causing wide scale damage in the vicinity.

The preliminary report of the USGS estimated magnitude of the quake at 5.2 of the Richter Scale.

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa directed troops to immediately launch relief and rescue operation in the aid of civil administrations in the quake-stricken areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).

Army troops with aviation and medical support teams dispatched for operation in aid of civil administration for victims of earthquake in AJK," said Director General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor in a tweet.

The strong shocks forced the people to rush outdoors. Hundreds of people, including men, women and children were seen sitting on the roadsides as aftershocks continued.

The building of the Radio Azad Kashmir and FM 101 also suffered extensive damage, however, its staff managed to shift the equipment outdoors to continue the transmission.

Eye-witnesses reported extensive damage to several buildings with wide cracks in walls, while several boundary walls collapsed, injuring people in the vicinity.

AJK Prime Minister Raja farooq Haider Khan, who was in Lahore, cut short his visit

to rush to Mirpur to supervise the rescue operations.

A control room has been established at the DC Office Mirpur. Deputy Commissioner Qaiser Aurangzeb said the civil administration was carrying out rescue and relief operations with the army.

With a state of emergency declared at the District Headquarters Hospital and lack of space, the injured were being treated in corridors and lawns of the hospital.

Emergency teams of NDMA, Rescue 1122, Edhi and other services were also reaching the area.
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Publication:Balochistan Times (Baluchistan Province, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Sep 25, 2019
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