A killer earthquake of a startling 7.5 magnitude chose the province of Badakhshan in the Hindu Kush mountain range in Afghanistan’s far northern region as its epicentre.
At a depth of 130 miles (210km), more than two minutes of sustained tremors were felt in Islamabad, Lahore, Faisalabad and the mountainous region of Chitral in Pakistan reportedly claiming at least 215 lives and injuring 1200.
One of the deadliest earthquakes recorded in the region, it shook homes across a vast region including New Delhi in India and the Central Asian republic of Tajikistan. Even the Qatari residents have also reported feeling the aftershocks.
The frightening quake, which left cracks in the walls and ceilings of hundreds of houses in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and sent people running out of buildings into streets in India and other affected regions, came out of the blue.
Throughout history, powerful earthquakes have been caused by the northward collision of India with Eurasia, the two plates moving towards each other at a rate of 4-5 cm per year.
According to siesmologists, only about 20 quakes each year, on average, measure greater than 7.0 around the world. The 7.8 Nepal quake in April was only 8km deep and was followed in May by a 7.3 aftershock.
The 2005 Kashmir quake had a devastating 7.6 magnitude and was just 26 km deep. And this time, the earthquake was deeper resulting in less severe ground shaking.
There is not much man can do to stop natural calamities. The movement of tectonic plates have always taken us by surprise. However, preventive measures can be taken to reduce the amount of destruction caused.
There are ways to monitor changes in the ground which help predict earthquakes. And then there is the widely discussed fact that designing buildings more cleverly in a way they can absorb shocks could save many lives.
The Nepal quake earlier this year was followed by a serious debate over the amount of destruction a quake of the same magnitude would have caused in a region with establishments of better quality and a place like Nepal.
Today, we are well aware of earthquake prone zones, which is why it would be a mistake to keep losing more and more to such deadly disasters. Better safe than sorry.