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Earthquake hits Pakistan-administered Kashmir

People stand outside their offices after an earthquake is felt in Islamabad [Anjum Naveed/AP Photo] A magnitude 5.8  earthquake has rattled Pakistan-administered Kashmir and areas in Punjab province, according to the US geological agency.

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The quake hit 22 kilometres (14 miles) north of the city of Jhelum along the boundary separating the agricultural heartland of Punjab province and Pakistani-administered Kashmir, locally known as Azad Kashmir, the USGS said on Tuesday.

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Pakistan‘s chief meteorologist Muhammad Riaz told AFP news agency that “t he worst hit” was Mirpur in Azad Kashmir.

Local disaster management officials told Al Jazeera they were still gathering reports from the site of the earthquake, but had received word of damage to infrastructure

“We have reports of cracks in the roads there,” said disaster management official Ammar Raza Shaikh

Tahir Mahmood, a senior police official in Rawalakot, about 80km (50 miles) from Mirpur,  said “there is a lot of damage to infrastructure [in Mirpur].” He added: “No casualties as yet

“Roads seem to have developed cracks and sunk down. Lots of vehicles were thrown around.”

Troops dispatched The country’s military spokesman said an “immediate rescue operation” had been launched “in aid of civil administration”

“Army troops with aviation and medical support teams dispatched,” military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted

Tremors were felt in the eastern city of Lahore, about 270km (170 miles) south, and as far away as the Indian capital of New Delhi (more than 800km (500 miles) away. 

Indian news agency the Press Trust of India reported that people rushed from their homes and offices in panic in several places, including in Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana

In October 2015, a magnitude 7.5-quake in Pakistan and Afghanistan killed almost 400 people, flattening buildings in rugged terrain that impeded relief efforts

The country was also hit by a magnitude-7.6 quake on October 8, 2005, that killed more than 73,000 people and left about 3.5 million homeless, mainly in Pakistan-administered Kashmir

SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies