KABUL, Afghanistan – A moderate earthquake hit swaths of northern Pakistan and Afghanistan at midday Thursday, shaking house foundations and jolting cities across 400 miles of Central and South Asia. Some damage and minor injuries were reported in the Afghan capital.
The magnitude-5.8 quake was centered about 180 miles north of Peshawar, Pakistan, in the Hindu Kush mountain range of Afghanistan, said Abdul Rashid, seismologist at the Pakistani government's meteorological office. The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude at 6.0.
The quake struck at 12:05 p.m. and was felt in the Pakistan capital of Islamabad, the northern city of Peshawar and the eastern city of Lahore.
More than 300 miles away, in the old city of Kabul, the Afghan capital, several walls surrounding house compounds cracked and crumbled. One crying woman was taken to the hospital with light injuries, covered in dust and specks of blood. She was apparently washing her clothes when a wall fell on top of her.
At the airport north of the city, the entire tower shook violently and people ran from the building, but there was no visible damage.
Also, pieces of several bullet-ridden abandoned buildings in Kabul fell to the ground. Many buildings in and around Kabul are very unsafe after many years of shelling and abandonment.
In Islamabad, the quake lasted more than 30 seconds and shook house foundations and light fixtures. In Peshawar, near the Afghan border, the shaking was continuing more than 10 minutes after the initial temblor.
The tremor could also be felt -- more mildly -- in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif, where there was no visible damage.
In Srinagar, the summer capital of India's Jammu-Kashmir state, the quake was felt for 35 seconds, sending residents out of their homes and into the streets. And further north, Tajikistan's Emergency Situations Ministry also reported feeling tremors.
Earthquakes and seismic activity are common in this part of the world and particularly in the Hindu Kush mountains, though they are not usually felt over such a wide area.
Bruce Presgrave, a U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist, said in Colorado that the area within a 60-mile radius of Thursday's quake has had 18 quakes of magnitude-6.0 or higher since 1990.
He said the relative depth of the earthquake Thursday -- 75 miles below the surface -- probably would mitigate possible damage.
"This is a very active area. It's part of the boundary between the Indian subcontinent and the Eurasian plate," Presgrave said. "Typically earthquakes at that depth are felt over wide area and tend not to cause as much damage ... as a shallow earthquake."