Strong earthquake in Afghan-Pakistani border region

A strong earthquake Tuesday stirred fear-filled memories for survivors of a devastating October quake, but initial reports indicated relatively minor damage and few injuries. "I am hopeful and we pray that there will be few casualties," Afghan President Hamid Karzai's spokesman, Karim Rahimi, told a weekly news conference. "But of course it was a very strong quake. Everybody felt it."

The pre-dawn magnitude-6.6 quake was centered in Afghanistan's remote and sparsely populated Hindu Kush mountains and woke people up from the Afghan capital, Kabul, to the Pakistani capital Islamabad, more than 320 kilometers (200 miles) away.

While there was still a chance that assessment teams might find devastation as they reach isolated villages in northeastern Afghanistan, it appeared that the region largely avoided a repeat of the disaster spawned by a magnitude-7.6 quake that struck northwestern Pakistan and Kashmir on Oct. 6, killing at least 87,000 people and leaving 3.5 million homeless. In one district, authorities sent a man on horseback to check on an isolated mountain valley.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered about 95 kilometers (60 miles) southeast of Faizabad, capital of sparsely populated Badakhshan province. Provincial police chief Shah Jahan Noori told The Associated Press about 200 homes were damaged, about half in the Shahri Buzurg district to the northwest. Seven men and three children suffered minor injuries, and about 400 head of cattle and other animals were killed, he said.

A woman in the eastern city of Jalalabad, far south of Badakhshan, was injured when the roof of her home collapsed, Nangarhar province police spokesman Ghafor Khan said. But he reported no serious damage in the province. Badakhshan governor Abdul Majid told AP the ground shook for two minutes in Faizabad, informs the AP. N.U.

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