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The 2005 Kashmir Earthquake (also known as the South Asian earthquake or the Great Pakistan earthquake) was a major earthquake centered in Pakistan-administered Kashmir and in North West Frontier Provincemarker (NWFP) near the city of Muzaffarabadmarker, Pakistan. It occurred at 08:52:37 Pakistan Standard Time (03:52:37 UTC) on 8 October, 2005. It registered a debatable moment magnitude of 7.6 making it similar in size to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the 1935 Quetta earthquake, the 2001 Gujarat earthquakemarker, and the 2009 Sumatra earthquakesmarker. As of 8 November, the government of Pakistanmarker's official death toll was 79,000, while officials say nearly 1,400 people also died in Indian Kashmirmarker and four people in Afghanistanmarker. The severity of the damage caused by the earthquake is attributed to severe upthrust, coupled with poor construction.

Human impact

Believed to be the 12th[386664] or 14th most destructive earthquake of all time. People lived in mountainous regions with access impeded by landslides that blocked the roads, leaving an estimated 3.3 million homeless in Pakistan. The UN reported that 8 million people were directly affected. It is estimated that damages incurred are well over US$ 5 billion (400 billion Pakistani rupees) Five crossing points were opened on the Line of Controlmarker (LoC) between Indiamarker and Pakistanmarker to facilitate the flow of humanitarian and medical aid to the affected region, and international aid teams from around the world came to the region to assist in relief.

The earthquake

Pakistan Administered Kashmirmarker lies in the area of collision of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. . The geological activity born out of this collision, also responsible for the birth of the Himalayan mountain range, is the cause of unstable seismicity in the region. The Pakistan Meteorological Department estimated the 7.6 magnitude on the richter scale. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) measured its magnitude as a minimum of 7.6 on the moment magnitude scale, with its epicentre at , about 19 km (11.8 miles) northeast of Muzaffarabadmarker, Pakistani Kashmir, and 100 km (65 miles) north-northeast of the national capital Islamabadmarker. The earthquake is classified as "major" by the USGS. The hypocenter was located at a depth of 26 km (16.2 miles) below the surface . The Japan Meteorological Agency estimated its magnitude at a minimum of 7.8. By comparison, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquakemarker had a magnitude of 9.15. The earthquake caused widespread destruction in northern Pakistan, as well as damage in Afghanistanmarker and northern Indiamarker. The worst hit areas were Pakistani Kashmir, Pakistan's North-West Frontier Provincemarker (NWFP), western and southern parts of Indian-administered Kashmir valley. It also affected some parts of the Pakistani province of Punjabmarker, the capital city of Islamabadmarker, and the city of Karachimarker experienced a minor aftershock of magnitude 4.6. There have been many secondary earthquakes in the region, mainly to the northwest of the original epicentre. A total of 147 aftershocks were registered in the first day after the initial quake, of which one had a magnitude of 6.2 Twenty-eight of these aftershocks occurred with magnitudes greater. On October 19, a series of strong aftershocks, one with a magnitude of 5.8, occurred about 65 km (40.5 miles) north-northwest of Muzaffarabadmarker. As of 27 October 2005 there have been more than 978 aftershocks with a magnitude of 4.0 and above that continue to occur daily. (See USGS for a list of recent aftershocks and effects.) Since then, measures from satellites have shown, that mountain parts directly above the epicenter have risen by a few meters, giving ample proof, that the rising of the Himalayas are still going on, and that this earthquake was a consequence of that.


2005 Kashmir earthquake casualties
Location Dead Injured
NWFPmarker, Pakistanmarker   Pakistani Kashmirmarker 73,338     100,000    
Indian Administered Kashmirmarker 1,360      6,266
Afghanistanmarker 4      14
Total 74,500+ 106,000+
Most of the casualties resulting from the earthquake were in Pakistan administered Kashmir where the official confirmed death toll is 74,698, putting it higher than the massive scale of destruction of the 1935 Quetta earthquake. Nearly 1,400 people died in Jammu and Kashmir, according to officials.International donors have estimated that about 86,000 died but this has not been confirmed or endorsed by Pakistani authorities.

As Saturday is a normal school day in the region, most students were at schools when the earthquake struck. Many were buried under collapsed school buildings. Many people were also trapped in their homes and, because it was the month of Ramadan, most people were taking a nap after their pre-dawn meal and did not have time to escape during the earthquake. Reports indicate that entire towns and villages were completely wiped out in Northern Pakistan with other surrounding areas also suffering severe damage.

"...a second, massive wave of death will happen if we do not step up our efforts now", Kofi Annan said on 20 October with reference to the thousand remote villages in which people are in need of medical attention, food, clean water and shelter and the 120,000 survivors that have not yet been reached."

According to Pakistan's Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Sherpao, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz
"made the appeal to survivors" on 26 October to come down to valleys and cities for relief, because bad weather, mountainous terrain, landslides and blocked roads are making it difficult for relief workers to reach each house and the winter snows are imminent."

Afghan Territory

Four deaths were reported in Afghanistanmarker, including a young girl who died in Jalalabadmarker after a wall collapsed on her. The quake was felt in Kabulmarker, but the effects were minimal.

International response

Many countries, international organizations and non-governmental organizations have offered relief aid to the region, in the form of donation as well as relief supplies including food, medical supplies, tents and blankets.

Rescue and relief workers were sent to the region from different parts of the world and they brought along rescue equipment, including helicopters and rescue dogs. Flights to Muzaffarabad were packed with members of family of those caught in the destruction, and many already feared dead.

The United Nations has appealed for donations to raise at least US$72 billion to help victims of the quake.

See also


  1. "Pakistan Asks Quake Survivors to Leave Mountains Before Winter" (Bloomberg),, 26 October 2005, retrieved 24 February 2006
  2. "New figures put quake toll at more than 79,000" AP, ,,, 19 October 2005, retrieved 23 February 2006
  3. "South Asia Earthquake: Fact Sheet #25 (FY 2006)", 17 November 2005, retrieved 23 February 2006
  4. USGS Earthquake Hazards Program
  5. "Pak in panic as quake rocks Kashmir" Reuters, The Financial Express, 19 October 2005, retrieved 23 February 2006
  6. "Pakistan: A summary report on Muzaffarabad earthquake" ReliefWeb, 7 November 2005, retrieved 23 February 2006
  7. BBC series: Earth: The Power of the Planet, part 1. Volcano
  8. BBC News – Earthquake toll leaps to 73,000
  9. "Thousands at risk of starving in earthquake aid shortfall" The Times, 21 October 2005, retrieved 24 February 2006
  10. "Pakistan Asks Earthquake Survivors to Leave Mountains Before Winter", (Bloomberg),, 26 October 2005, retrieved 23 February 2006


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