People gather after a building tilts folowing an earthquake, at Shakarpur area in New Delhi | Photo: PTI
New Delhi: Strong tremors jolted large swathes of north India, including Delhi-NCR, on Tuesday night as an earthquake of magnitude 6.6 struck the Hindu Kush region in Afghanistan.
People rushed out of their homes and came out on the streets as the powerful temblor shook the mountainous region at 10.17 pm. There was no immediate report of any loss of life or damage to property.
According to the National Centre for Seismology (NCS), the epicentre of the earthquake was 133 km south-southeast of Fayzabad in Afghanistan with a focal depth of 156 km.
At least five people were injured in neighbouring Pakistan, where the magnitude of the earthquake was 6.8 and tremors were felt in cities such as Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi.
At the time of the earthquake, a stampede was reported in a market in Rawalpindi, The Express Tribune newspaper reported. In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, at least five members of a family were injured after a roof of their house collapsed in Swabi, the report stated.
In India, the earthquake was felt across northern region, including Delhi-NCR, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan.
A resident in Rajasthan's Sri Ganganagar district said he felt three tremors back to back.
A senior seismologist said the reason why people in northwest India and Delhi felt the tremors for a relatively longer time is because the "depth of the fault was more than 150 km".
People in northern India first felt the primary waves and then were impacted by the secondary waves, he said.
According to the NCS, the epicentre of the earthquake was located at 36.09 degrees north on the latitude and 71.35 degrees east on the longitude with a focal depth of 156 km.
There were disruptions in mobile services in some parts of the Jammu region immediately after the earthquake, an official said.
In east Delhi's Shakarpur, anxious people filled the congested lanes after claims by some that a building had tilted, but it turned out to be a false alarm. Two fire tenders were rushed to south-east Delhi's Jamia Nagar after a call claimed that a building was leaning there, officials said, adding further information is awaited.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, "Strong tremors were felt across Delhi-NCR. Hope you all are safe."
A Noida resident said he first noticed the dining table shaking. "Soon after we saw that the fans were also shaking. The earthquake was strong in terms of intensity and stayed for a relatively longer period," the resident of Hyde Park society in Noida said.
A cab owner in Delhi said he felt the earthquake while he was waiting for passengers.
"I was waiting for passengers and suddenly my car started shaking. I immediately shouted and alerted my friends," said cab owner Ramesh Pawar, who was near Connaught Place in central Delhi.
Jyoti, a resident of Lajpat Nagar in south Delhi, said she was watching television when she suddenly saw the TV and sofa were shaking.
Initially, she ignored it but when her husband alerted her, she and her family members rushed out of their home.
"I ignored it initially but as soon as my husband alerted, I felt the earthquake too. This time it was strong and the sofa I was sitting on started shaking a bit. We rushed outside our home. Thankfully, we are on the ground floor, so in such situations, we have an easy escape," she said.
Ghaziabad-resident Inderjeet Kaur said, "We felt the tremors for nearly 30 seconds and rushed out of our home."
Jagdish Patwal, a resident of a high-rise apartment building in Noida, said, "The sofa, fan were shaking and people climbed down from the 20th floor."
Chatter about the possible epicentre of the earthquake and memories of the destruction caused by a series of temblors in Turkiye dominated the discussions in the groups of people who rushed out of their homes.
The tremors also sparked panic in Rajasthan as people rushed out of buildings as a precautionary measure and enquired about the earthquake from others.
In Punjab and Haryana and their common capital Chandigarh, people rushed out of their homes during the tremors.
"I was about to go to sleep when I suddenly felt a strong tremor. I along with my wife and two children rushed downstairs," said Ajay Kumar, who lives on the third floor of a residential society in Chandigarh.
In Zirakpur, a town in Punjab which is on the outskirts of Chandigarh and has many high-rise residential societies, panic-stricken people rushed out of their homes and gathered in open parks.
Reports from many places in Punjab, including Pathankot, Mohali, Jalandhar, Phagwara and Ludhiana, said strong tremors were felt.
There were similar reports from many places in Haryana, including Panchkula, Ambala, Karnal and parts of the National Capital Region.
In Himachal Pradesh, people in Shimla, Mandi and several other places rushed to safety.
"Tremors were felt in all the 12 districts of the state but no loss of life or damage to property has been reported," Special Secretary Disaster Management Sudesh Mokta told PTI.
Hundreds of residents rushed out of their homes in Noida - that houses scores of high-rise apartments -- in the wake of the strong tremors.
Among those who rushed in panic were the elderly, women and young children while some residents also carried their pets with them.
"I was watching a TV serial when I felt the earthquake. It was scary and I counted till 10 in my mind," Rajesh Kumar, a senior citizen who lives on the first floor of Supertech Capetown in Sector 74, told PTI moments after his family and he reached outside their building.
Several people opted for staircases and avoided lifts during the rush.
"Those living on the upper floors are the ones who suffer the most in emergency situations," said Mansi, who accompanied a sick friend of hers as they climbed down from the 15th floor of a residential tower.
Once on the ground outside the towers, many people were seen calling up their contacts and checking on them for their safety while some even took to video calls to show the crowds that surrounded them.
"I can still feel as if I am shaking," a Noida youth said as he was rushing out of home. PTI