Disaster relief agency ShelterBox is monitoring the unfolding situation in north-eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan

Initial reports are of over 100 deaths as a powerful earthquake hit the mountainous Hindu Kush region of north-eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan. Tremors from the magnitude 7.5 quake were also felt in northern India and Tajikistan.

The high magnitude is similar to the Nepal quakes of April and May, but the epicentre is far deeper at 213 km.

ShelterBox Operations Team Lead Alice Jefferson says,

This region is difficult to access, and volatile. It is unknown at this time whether ShelterBox assistance will be required, but damage is expected.

The quake happened at 9.10 this morning UK time. 12 of the reported victims were schoolgirls killed in a crush as they tried to get out of their building, with a further 25 injured. The earthquake had its epicentre 45 miles south of Faizabad, says the US Geological Survey.

Buildings have been evacuated and communications disrupted in many areas. Deaths and injuries have also been reported in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar. In Pakistan, the disaster management authority said 94 people had been confirmed dead in the north of the country.

The US Geological Survey says that such faults and their resultant earthquakes in this area are the direct result of the convergence between the India and Eurasia plates. This collision causes the uplift that produced the highest mountain peaks in the world, including the Himalayas and Hindu Kush ranges.

Alice adds, ‘We are awaiting more information on damage reports in Afghanistan and north-western Pakistan through news alerts. We will continue to monitor and engage with partners operating in the region.’

ShelterBox already has an existing contingency plan to provide a number of UN/IFRC spec tents to northern Afghanistan with a partner organisation. The Logistics and Operations Teams are checking whether this shipment can be expedited if a major aid push is called for in the quake-hit region.