Hundreds of people were killed in South and Central Asia and many more injured when a magnitude 7.6 earthquake -- estimated to be the most intense in the region in the last century -- jolted cities in three countries early today. Officials in Pakistan, where the quake was centered, are warning that the eventual death toll could be in the thousands. Pakistan's army said initial reports indicate the damage was widespread in that country.

One of the hardest-hit areas appeared to be Kashmir, the Himalayan territory divided between India and Pakistan. Both countries reported dozens of homes damaged, along with some schools, mosques and office buildings.

an 11-year-old girl in Afghanistan's eastern Nangahar province, which borders Pakistan, was crushed to death when a wall in her home collapsed, said Gafar Khan, a police official.

The U.S. Geological Survey said on its Web site the quake hit at 8:50 a.m. local time.

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