Quake hits central Afghanistan killing at least seven

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The Independent Online

An earthquake of 5.3 magnitude hit central Afghanistan early today, killing at least seven people and wounding more than 30, a provincial official said.

The quake's epicentre was 120 miles northwest of the capital Kabul, at a depth of 6 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said on its website. The earthquake struck at around 1 a.m. local time. (2030 GMT on yesterday).

Ghulam Sakhi, deputy governor of northern Samangan province, where the epicentre was located, said three districts in the area were particularly affected.

"Seven people were killed and 34 have been wounded. Forty houses have collapsed," said Sakhi, adding the casualty toll could increase.

Sakhi said access to one of the three districts had been blocked because of damage caused by the quake and until rescuers were able to approach the area the final toll would not be known.

Mountainous Afghanistan is an earthquake-prone country, with most concentrated in the northeast. Dozens of people were killed in a 5.5 magnitude quake in eastern Afghanistan in April 2009.

In 2002, at least 1,500 people were killed when a series of quakes of between magnitude 5 and 6 struck northern Baghlan province in the Hindu Kush mountains, destroying the district capital of Nahrin.

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