Thousands dead as quake rocks 3 Asian countries

A powerful 7.6-magnitude earthquake near the Pakistan-India border today reduced villages to rubble, triggered landslides and flattened an apartment building.

So far reports have indicated more than 1,700 people were killed in both nations, and a Pakistan army spokesman called the devastation "a national tragedy."

The epicenter was 60 miles (about 95 kilometers) north-northeast of Islamabad near Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.

The effects of the quake -- estimated to be the most intense in the region -- rippled hundreds of miles away, striking remote but populous regions and felt in major cities, including Pakistan's capital of Islamabad, India's capital of New Delhi and the Pakistani city of Lahore.

Across Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, buildings shook and walls swayed for about a minute, and panicked people ran from their homes and offices. Tremors continued for hours afterward. Communications throughout the region were cut.

About 1,000 people were killed in Pakistani Kashmir, said Sardar Mohammed Anwar, the top government official in the area.

"This is my conservative guess, and the death toll could be much higher," Anwar told Pakistan's Aaj television station.

He said most homes in Muzaffarabad, the area's capital, were damaged, and schools and hospitals had collapsed.

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