ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN—Thirteen people were killed in a powerful earthquake that hit Uzbekistan’s heavily populated Ferghana Valley region early Wednesday, emergency officials said.
A magnitude-6.2 temblor that centred in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan hit shortly after midnight in a mountainous area some 35 kilometres away from the eastern Uzbek city of Ferghana, which has a population of more than 200,000.
Uzbekistan’s Emergency Services Ministry said in a statement that of the 86 people being treated for injuries, 35 have been hospitalized.
Officials said a number of residential buildings in several towns in the Ferghana Province have been damaged, but they did not specify the extent of the earthquake’s impact.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov has given instructions for emergency workers to take prompt action to mitigate the fallout from the quake and provide assistance to victims, a government statement said.
“Local authorities are carrying out the work needed to assist the population affected by the earthquake and have take on the burden of the costs of organizing and carrying out the burial of victims,” the Emergency Services Ministry said.
A statement on the Foreign Ministry website said the country’s leadership had expressed its condolences to the families of those killed in the earthquake.
Although the epicenter was in Kyrgyzstan, there have so far been no reports of any deaths there.
Kanat Abdrakhmatov, head of the National Academy of Science’s seismology institute, said the epicenter was in a sparsely inhabited area of Kyrgyzstan and that only a few buildings appear to have been damaged.
Quakes are a relatively frequent occurrence in this region of former Soviet Central Asia. A 6.6-magnitude quake near Kyrgyzstan’s borders with Tajikistan and China flattened the remote mountain village of Nura in July 2008, killing at least 74 people.