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Afghan Hindu Kush Mountains Rocked by 7.7M Earthquake, Delhi Too Jolted

The Hindu Kush mountain region in Afghanistan was rocked on Monday afternoon with 7.7 Magnitude sending tremors across Pakistan and India, including Delhi where several buildings were rattled or developed cracks.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the magnitude of the quake at 7.7 is similar to that of Nepal earthquake that damaged the Himalayan region in April this year.

The timing of the earthquake was put at 09:09:32 (UTC) or 02:39:32 (Indian Standard Time). The nearby cities affected included as below:

45km (28mi) N of `Alaqahdari-ye Kiran wa Munjan, Afghanistan
48km (30mi) SSW of Jarm, Afghanistan
76km (47mi) S of Fayzabad, Afghanistan
77km (48mi) WSW of Ashkasham, Afghanistan
254km (158mi) NNE of Kabul, Afghanistan

The quake was 196 km deep and had its epicentre in the Hindu Kush mountain range located 256 km from Kabul, but Peshawar in Pakistand and Delhi in India were also jolted from the earthquake. The services of the Delhi Metro were briefly suspended around 2.40pm.

Seismic activity in the India-Eurasia plate boundary within the limits of the Indus-Tsangpo (also called the Yarlung-Zangbo) Suture to the north and the Main Frontal Thrust to the south is due to reverse slip movement including the 1934 M8.1 earthquake in Bihar, the 1905 M7.5 in Kangra and the 2005 M7.6 in Kashmir in the past.

The latter two resulted in the highest death tolls for Himalaya earthquakes seen to date, together killing over 100,000 people and leaving millions homeless. The largest instrumentally recorded Himalaya earthquake occurred on 15th August 1950 in Assam, eastern India. This M8.6 right-lateral, strike-slip, earthquake was widely felt over a broad area of central Asia, causing extensive damage to villages in the epicentral region.

Along the western margin of the Tibetan Plateau, in the vicinity of south-eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan, the India plate faulting includes strike-slip, reverse-slip and oblique-slip motion and often results in shallow, destructive earthquakes.

In 1505, a segment of the Chaman fault near Kabul, Afghanistan, ruptured causing widespread destruction. In the same region the more recent 30 May 1935, M7.6 Quetta earthquake, which occurred in the Sulaiman Range in Pakistan, killed between 30,000 and 60,000 people.

On the north-western side of the Tibetan Plateau, beneath the Pamir-Hindu Kush Mountains of northern Afghanistan, earthquakes occur at depths as great as 200 km as a result of remnant lithospheric subduction. On the 18 February 1911, the M7.4 Sarez earthquake ruptured in the Central Pamir Mountains, killing numerous people and triggering a landside, which blocked the Murghab River.

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