A magnitude 7.5 earthquake has rocked north-east Afghanistan leaving more than 260 people dead, mainly in northern Pakistan.
Thousands more have been left injured as buildings were torn down with shockwaves being felt through northern India and Tajikistan.
Authorities said the death toll in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province alone had reached 179, with more than 1800 people injured.
At least 52 have been reported dead in Afghanistan, including 12 schoolgirls who were crushed in a stampede as they tried to escape their school building.
The death toll is expected to rise in the coming days as most of the areas severely affected have had communication cut off.
According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake originated more than 200km below the earth’s surface and was centred in the mountainous Hindu Kush region, 76km south of Faizabad.
Gul Hammad Farooqi, a journalist in northern Pakistan, had his house collapse during the powerful earthquake.
“I was thrown from one side of the room to the other by the strength of the earthquake. I’ve never experienced anything like it,” he said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ordered an urgent assessment of the damage as schools and offices in Delhi were evacuated in the tremor.
“We stand ready for assistance where required, including Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said.
Scott Anderson, deputy head of office for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Kabul, said that although it had ground staff available it was difficult to get a clear picture of the situation.
“The problem is we just don’t know. A lot of the phone lines are still down,” he said.
The region has a record of powerful earthquakes as a result of the Indian subcontinent colliding with Eurasia, causing a destructive release of energy. – Josh Chahal
Top photo of the earthquake’s damage in Pakistan from the BBC’s Afghanistan-Pakistan quake coverage.