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Mw 7.3 (NEIC)

217 km

A M7.3 earthquake hits Northeast Afghanistan

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March 3, 2002

An earthquake measuring M7.3 (NEIC) occurred at 12:08:06 UTC in the Hindu Kush region of Northeast Afghanistan. Reports indicate the quake shook a wide area of Central Asia, causing significant damage in the epicentral region and killing at least 150 people and injuring dozens.

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According to the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) the earthquake struck at 4:48 p.m. in the afternoon (local time), March 3, about 150 miles NNE of Kabul and 45 miles SSW of Feyzabad, Afghanistan, in the mountainous Badakhshan province of the Hindu Kush, near Deh Gol. See Maps.

The focal depth was at 217 km below the surface. Earthquakes this large at this depth usually shake a wide area for long periods. This is a common depth of earthquakes in this area.

The USGS fault plan solution indicated reverse or high-angled thrust movement along a steeply dipping west-northwest trending plane.

Damage and shaking reports
Wire reports indicate the quake shook a wide area of central Asia, with felt reports coming in from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Buildings swayed and people fled into the streets as far away as the India capital of New Delhi and the Tajikistan capital of Dushanbe.

Seismo-Watch has received dozens of felt reports from the region. Tell us what you felt and what occurred in your area. We want to know!

Many said the shaking lasted for more than a minute and some said it shook for as long as 90 seconds. Many were frightened and some were terrified. Most said it began as a slight rumble of the ground, then intensified to a vigorous shaking that kept on going and going. A few said the shaking had long period waves and seem to come from below rather than from any particular side.

Officials are still assessing the damage as the earthquake occurred in a remote section of the country.

These reports come mostly from Kabul. More than 150 people have been reportedly killed with dozens injured. Fortunately, it was Sunday and many business and schools were closed, yet markets were bustling and as the earthquake began to shake, people scattered rushing for safety.

Wire reports indicate dozens of buildings were badly damaged or destroyed. Many walls collapsed and several buildings were in near ruin. Some roofs caved in, power was disrupted to parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Landslides swept down mountain slopes, raising massive dust plumes high into the sky, blocking roads and hampring rescue efforts. One massive landslide in the Zow region of northeastern Afghanistan burried part of a village and dammed the nearby river, causing extensive flooding (see photo above (source: Reuters)). Rescue workers estimate more than a hundred people were killed by this landslide.

This is the largest earthquake in this general area since a M7.2 event struck on December 30, 1983. A M6.9 temblor north of here on May 30, 1998, killed more than 5,000 people.

Additional seismic information links:

Mainstream media news reports:
Report update: 9:11:40 PM, Wednesday, March 27, 2002

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