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Major Quake Hits Pakistan, India, Afghanistan

A powerful 7.6-magnitude earthquake rocked South Asia on Saturday, killing at least seven people and injuring hundreds in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. Pakistan's army said initial reports indicate the damage was widespread in that country.

Pakistan's private TV news station, Geo (search), said it had received unconfirmed reports that at least 25 people had died in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir (search), where dozens of homes, schools, mosques and offices were damaged. Government officials there said more than 100 people had been taken to hospitals.

Four people died in northwestern Pakistan, a relief official in the area said. Police in India-controlled Kashmir said an infant and another person died there. India reported more than 200 people were injured in its part of Kashmir.

An 11-year-old girl was killed in Afghanistan.

"We have received news of widespread damage in Pakistan's northern areas, Kashmir and other parts of the country," said Gen. Shaukat Sultan, the spokesman for Pakistan's army.

He said troops and helicopters were dispatched to earthquake-hit areas to conduct rescue operations. Landslides were blocking rescuers in some areas.

The U.S. Geological Survey (search) said on its Web site the quake hit at 8:50 a.m. local time and had a magnitude of 7.6. It was centered 58 miles north-northeast of Islamabad at a depth of just six miles.

Dozens of people were feared trapped in the rubble of a 10-story apartment building in Islamabad (search), the Pakistani capital. Rescue workers pulled two injured people from a huge pile of debris.

Qaiser Abbas, a receptionist in the damaged building in Islamabad, said he was sitting in his office when the building suddenly began to shake.

"After five seconds, I heard big sound, and then about 40 apartments collapsed," he said.

The quake badly damaged a village near Balakot (search), a scenic town about 180 miles northeast of Peshawar (search), the capital of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province, regional police chief Ataullah Wazir said. Local media reports said many homes in Balakot had collapsed.

Four people were killed in the province's Shangla (search) district, said Bahar Karam, a relief official in the area.

In the Afghan capital, Kabul, residents fled their homes for fear they would collapse. Kabul is about 400 miles northwest of Islamabad.

U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry O'Hara said the quake was also felt at Bagram (search), the main American base in Afghanistan, but he had no reports of damage there or at other bases around the country.

But an 11-year-old girl in Afghanistan's eastern Nangahar province, which borders Pakistan, was crushed to death when a wall in her home collapsed, said Gafar Khan, a police official.

Police in the Pakistani city of Lahore (search) said at least eight people were injured and four shops were damaged. The earthquake also damaged part of a school in Rawalpindi (search), a city near Islamabad, injuring at least two girls.

In Islamabad, buildings shook and walls swayed for about a minute. Panicked people ran out of their homes and offices in many cities. Slight tremors continued afterward.

The quake also caused panic in Rawalpindi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta near the Afghan border, as well as the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan.

At least 100 houses were damaged in India's Jammu-Kashmir state, including a dozen houses in Srinagar (search), the summer capital, said B.B. Vyas, a senior administration official.

"It was one of the most intense earthquakes felt in the Srinagar region in at least two decades," said G.K. Mohanty, an official in the meteorological office in Srinagar.

Two people, including a nine-month-old baby, were killed when the walls of their homes collapsed, said a police officer in Srinagar. Telephone lines were down across the state, and power had been switched off in the state as a precaution, he said. Bridges had developed cracks, but traffic was passing over them.

The tremor was felt in northern India.

"It was so strong that I saw buildings swaying. It was terrifying," said Hari Singh, a guard in an apartment complex in the New Delhi suburb of Noida (search). Hundreds of residents there raced down from their apartments after their beds and couches started shaking.