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M7.3 Arghenchkha Bala (Hindukush) Earthquake, 2002


3 March 2002


E of Arghenchkha Bala, Badakhshan


12:08:18 UTC (16:38:18 AT)


36.496 N (ISC)


70.517 E (ISC)


208.9 kms (ISC)


Mw 7.3 (NEIC; HRV)

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A major earthquake struck the Hindukush Mountains in Badakhshan, Afghanistan, on 3 March 2002 at 16:38 PM local time, killing at least 144 people and resulting in damage to property in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was felt in many parts of eastern Afghanistan, northern Pakistan and northern India. It had a magnitude of Mw=7.3 and was felt for more than 40-seconds.

The earthquake was centred 6 kilometres E of Arghenchkha Bala (Badakhshan), India,
24.8 kilometres W of Ghowryd-e Gharami (Badakhshan), Afghanistan,
70.9 kilometres S of Fezyabad (Badakhshan), Afghanistan,
75 kilometres NNW of Shahr-e Pari (Badakhshan), Afghanistan,
123 kilometres WNW of Chitral (N.W.F.P.), Pakistan
143 kilometres SW of Khorog, Tajikistan,

253 kilometres NNE of Kabul (Kabol), Afghanistan,
292 kilometres NNW of Peshawar (N.W.F.P.), Pakistan
386 kilometres NW of Islamabad (N.C.T.), Pakistan,
862 kilometres NW of Chandigarh (U.T.), India,
1077 kilometres NW of Connaught Place, Delhi (N.C.R.), India.

At least 144 people were killed by this earthquake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Afghanistan, a landslide engulfed the village of Zow in the district of Ruy-e Du Ab in Samangan province killing 108 people. The entire village was destroyed and later submerged by a lake that formed after the landslide dammed the Surkenda river. 5 deaths and 7 injuries were recorded in the district of Jurm and 1 death in the Baharak district in Badakhshan province. 7 people were killed in Rustaq due to roof collapses. 2 deaths occurred in the city of Samangan and 8 in a village in the province of the same name. In the province of Bamian, 4 people died in the Kubahar district. In the capital, Kabul, 6 people were killed in wall collapses. 11 students were injured at a school in Jalalabad when a staircase collapsed. In neighbouring Pakistan, house collapses claimed the lives of 3 persons and injured 9 others. 12 people were hurt in the city of Peshawar.

Damage due to the earthquake was reported from many places in north-eastern Afganistan. Apart from the damage mentioned above more than 300 houses were destroyed in the district of Jurm, Badakhshan. A landslide also partially blocked the Salang Tunnel linking northern Afghanistan with southern areas. In Kabul, many houses were damaged and the roofs of several structures caved in. At least 80 buildings were destroyed in the city. Eyewitnesses said they saw a cloud of dust rising from the vity after the quake. 80 houses were reportedly destroyed in the city. Most of the damage was in the eastern sections of the city. Many homes in the Baghi Ali Mardan area of Kabul were damaged slightly. A shop in the same area was crushed by a concrete slab that fell from a neighbouring building. The shopkeeper had a narrow escape, as he had just left it when the shaking began and had gone out into the street. House collapses were also reported from Gulbahar, at the mouth of the Panjsher Valley. The quake was also felt at Bamiyan and Mazar-e Sharif but no damage was reported from that city.

In Pakistan, landslides blocked many roads in the mountainous areas, but there were no casualties as a result of the landslides. The earthquake rocked the border areas for about 90-seconds. There was slight damage in the form of cracks in many buildings in the Chitral district. In the Peshawar region, mud huts collapsed at Zargarabad and a building was damaged at Yakatoot. Cracks in buildings were reported from many parts of Peshawar. Everyone ran outdoors and automobile drivers stopped on feeling the earthquake. Tremors were also felt in the neighbouring districts of Charsadda, Mardan and Parachinar. At Islamabad, the shock was felt severely by everyone, and windows in a few buildings at Zero Point cracked. The shaking was so violent that people in moving vehicles felt the shock and many drivers stopped on Muree Street. People outdoors also felt the shaking and stood still as the ground shook. At Okhara, three buildings on Deepalpur Road developed cracks. At Lahore, the quake lasted 2 and a half minutes and drove many people out onto the streets. It was felt for a similar duration in many locations in the Punjab.
Severe tremors were felt at Faisalabad, Multan, Jhelum, Rawalpindi, Quetta and Vehari as well as at Gilgit and Muzaffarabad in P.O.K.

Strong tremors shook Jammu & Kashmir in India, sending many people outdoors and rattling windows. It was felt strongly at Baramulla, Sopor and in the Kashmir Valley. Trees and electric poles were seen shaking due to the earthquake which lasted 90-seconds in the state. Several window panes were broken in Srinagar. Many buildings developed cracks in the state. It was also strong at Mussourie in Uttaranchal. Tremors were also felt at Bathinda, Jallandhar, Ludhiana and Pagwara in Punjab, at Amballa in Haryana, at Chandigarh and at New Delhi. Light tremors were experienced at Ajmer, Bikaner, Chittaurgarh, Jaipur, Kota and Shekhavati in Rajasthan, India.

The earthquake was felt in much central Asia. At Dushanbe, Tajikistan, the shaking was strong and free-standing objects such as trees, were seen shaking. Objects were knocked from shelves and there were cracks in buildings. Tremors were reported from Andijon, Karshi, Namangan, Samarkhand and Tashkent in Uzbekistan, at Batken, Bishkek, Osh and Sufi-Kurgan in Kyrgyzstan, at Shymkent, Taraz and Zhambyl in Kazakhstan. In the western Chinese provinces of Xinjiang tremors were felt in the Kashi prefecture. A 50-yard fissure developed in the Xiker reservoir and flooded 12 villages downstream, resulting in damage worth $9,70,000.

01) International Seismological Centre (ISC), Berkshire.
02) National Earthquake Information Centre (NEIC), Golden, USA.
Harvard Centroid Moment Tensor Solution (HRV), Harvard, USA.
04) Macroseismic information has been compiled by the ASC from reports by local media and local NGO personnel.

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