The death toll could climb in coming days because communications were down in much of the rugged Hindu Kush mountain range area where the quake was centred.
In one of the worst incidents, 12 girls were killed in a stampede to get out of their school in the northeastern Afghan province of Takhar.
“They fell under the feet of other students,” said Abdul Razaq Zinda, provincial head of the Afghan National Disaster Management Agency, who reported heavy damage in Takhar.
Shockwaves were felt in northern India and in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, where hundreds of people ran out of buildings as the ground rolled beneath them.
All Indians in Kabul are safe and there are no reports of damage to Indian owned property in the city in the wake of the devastating earthquake, an Indian embassy official said.
“As of now, there are no reports of casualties or injuries among Indians,” the official said, adding that Indian ambassador Amar Sinha was going around the city to assess the situation.
The quake was 213km (132 miles) deep and centred 254km (158 miles) northeast of Kabul in a remote area of Afghanistan in the Hindu Kush mountain range.
The US Geological Survey initially measured the quake’s intensity at 7.7 then revised it down to 7.5. Aftershocks continue to hit the affected areas.
Injured people were pouring into Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, an official said.
“We received 50 injured and more are being shifted. The injured suffered multiple injuries due to building collapse,” said hospital spokesman Syed Jamil Shah.
International aid agencies working in the northern areas of Afghanistan reported that cellphone coverage in the affected areas remained down in the hour after the initial quake.
Jammu and Kashmir experienced intense and prolonged tremors that caused panic in areas that suffered severe flooding last year. Power supplies and most mobile networks were knocked out, and there was structural damage to roads and buildings. However, no casualties were reported in the state.
The earthquake struck almost exactly six months after Nepal suffered its worst quake on record, on April 25. Including the toll from a major aftershock in May, 9,000 people lost their lives and 900,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.
The mountainous region is seismically active, with earthquakes the result of the Indian subcontinent driving into and under the Eurasian landmass. Sudden tectonic shifts can cause enormous and destructive releases of energy.
A 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck northern Pakistan just over a decade ago, on October 8, 2005, killing about 75,000 people.