Big Earthquake Hits Central Asia

ALMATY (Reuters) – A strong earthquake hit Central Asia’s densely populated Ferghana valley early on Wednesday, shaking buildings in the region and sending residents of at least one Uzbek city onto the streets, local residents said.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 6.2 magnitude earthquake occurred 9.2 km (5.7 miles) underground, around 42 km (26 miles) southwest of Ferghana, a city in the east of Uzbekistan.

There was no immediate word on casualties and it was not clear if the epicentre of the quake was in a populated area.

A native of Ferghana, who lives in Kazakhstan, said that residents of her home city were woken by strong shaking and that many had evacuated their apartment blocks.

“Everybody is out on the street,” she told Reuters by telephone after speaking to Ferghana residents. She did not want to be identified.

She said that local residents also reported damage to low-rise apartment blocks in the nearby town of Margilan, a silk production centre. “It’s an old town and some of the old houses have been destroyed,” she said.

Ferghana valley — split between Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in a confused patchwork of Soviet-era borders — is Central Asia’s most densely populated area.

Tremors were felt across the vast mountainous region. A resident of a Kyrgyz town near the Uzbek border, also reached by Reuters by telephone, said the quake lasted up to 15 seconds.

“It was very scary and long,” said the Kyrgyz resident.

Earthquakes are frequent in Central Asia, a region of mountains and steppes set between Afghanistan, Iran, Russia and China.

In 2008, a powerful earthquake killed more than 70 people in Kyrgyzstan, a volatile country bordering Uzbekistan.

In 1966, the Uzbek capital Tashkent was flattened by a 7.5 earthquake when hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless. A 6 magnitude quake rocked Tashkent in 2008 but there was no damage.

Ferghana valley is a major centre of cotton and silk production, and the hills above are covered by walnut forests. The valley also has some oil and gas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.