On March 21, 2023, a strong earthquake with an epicentre in Afghanistan shook Pakistan and parts of India, resulting in at least 12 deaths and over 200 injuries. The earthquake’s epicentre was Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush region, with a depth of 180 kilometres. Videos circulating on social media showed people taking refuge outside their buildings while others captured their ceiling fans shaking as a result of the tremors. Television footage also showed panic-stricken citizens out on the streets.
One video that has gone viral on social media shows a newscaster of Pakistan’s Mashriq TV, a local Pashto TV channel, breaking the news of the earthquake. The 39-second video shows the camera and other television screens in the newsroom shaking, while another person left his seat. However, the news presenter remained steadfast in his seat, earning praise from people on social media for his composure.
The earthquake tremors were felt in various areas of Pakistan, including Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Quetta, Peshawar, Kohat, Lakki Marwat, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sialkot, Kot Momin, Madh Ranjha, Chakwal, Kohat and Gilgit-Baltistan. A stampede was reported in the markets of Rawalpindi at the time of the earthquake. In Islamabad and the neighbouring city of Rawalpindi, cracks appeared in various buildings. Around 150 people were injured in Swat, where hospitals had declared a state of emergency.
The earthquake also jolted the mountainous region of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), where landslides created fear. According to the international seismological centre, tremors were felt in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, China and Kyrgyzstan. Pakistan is located in an active seismic zone and experiences quakes of various intensities frequently.