A massive earthquake struck a remote area of northeastern Afghanistan on Monday, shaking the capital Kabul and killing at least 17 people while 36 were killed in neighbouring Pakistan, officials said. Shockwaves were felt in northern India and in Pakistan’s capital, where hundreds of people ran out of buildings as the ground rolled beneath them.

The quake was 213 km deep and centred 254 km northeast of Kabul in a remote area of Afghanistan in the Hindu Kush mountain range. The US Geological Survey initially measured the quake’s intensity at 7.7 then revised it down to 7.6 and later to 7.5.

The death toll could climb because communications were down in much of the rugged Hindu Kush mountain range area where the quake was centred.

In one of the worst single incidents, a panicked evacuation at girls’ school killed at least 12 students in the Afghan province of Takhar. “They fell under the feet of other students,” said Abdul Razaq Zinda, provincial head of the Afghan National Disaster Management Agency, who reported heavy damage in Takhar.

Rescue workers move a girl at a hospital, who was injured after an earthquake in Jalalabad, Afghanistan | Source: Reuters

India’s northernmost region of Kashmir experienced intense and prolonged tremors that caused panic in areas that suffered severe flooding last year. Power supplies and most mobile networks were knocked out, and there was structural damage to roads and buildings. No casualties were reported in Indian Kashmir, however.

More updates to follow | Source: Emsc

The earthquake struck almost exactly six months after Nepal suffered its worst quake on record, on April 25. Including the toll from a major aftershock in May, 9,000 people lost their lives and 900,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.The mountainous region is seismically active, with earthquakes the result of the Indian subcontinent driving into and under the Eurasian landmass. Sudden tectonic shifts can cause enormous and destructive releases of energy.

A vehicle damaged after massive earthquake at Rafiabadin Distrct in Baramulla, Jammu and Kashmir on Monday | Source: Reuters

A 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck northern Pakistan just over a decade ago, on October 8, 2005, killing about 75,000 people.