(Add quotes, Tajik statement)
By Neha Arora
NEW DELHI, February 12 (Reuters) – Strong tremors were felt in northern India and Pakistan on Friday following an earthquake in Tajikistan, witnesses said. Many residents left their homes, but no major damage was reported.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the earthquake’s magnitude to be 5.9 and focused 35 km (55 miles) west of Murghob in Tajikistan, central Asia.
Tajikistan’s Emergency Situations Ministry said the epicenter was 420 km (260 miles) east of the Tajik capital Dushanbe, near the border with China.
Tremors were felt in Dushanbe but the epicenter was in a sparsely populated area.
Cracks have been reported in some houses in northern Kashmir, India’s meteorological department said. A witness also reported the collapse of a wall near the city of Amritsar in northern India, but no facts were reported.
A resident of Baramulla district in Indian Kashmir said it was as if a strong wind had hit his house. “My whole house shook and cracks appeared in a corner of one of the rooms,” said Firdous Ahmad Khan.
Tremors were felt across Pakistan, including the capital, Islamabad and northwest Peshawar, and even as far as the eastern city of Lahore, which borders India.
In Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, where an earthquake in 2005 caused severe destruction, panic reigned, witnesses said, and many people fled their homes in fear.
“I thought it was the same as what hit us in 2005. My children started to cry,” said Asif Maqbool, a resident of Madina Market, a district of Muzaffarabad that was nearly razed to the ground in the quake. from 2005.
Saima Khalid, a resident of Khawaja Muhalla neighborhood in Muzaffarabad, said everyone in the neighborhood had gone out on the streets.
“They were crying, reciting verses from the Holy Quran,” she said.