The US Geological Survey reported a 6.8-magnitude earthquake in eastern Tajikistan on Thursday. The quake occurred around 5:37 a.m. local time (0037 GMT) at a depth of approximately 20.5 kilometres (12.7 miles).
The USGS estimated that the quake would expose “little or no population” to landslides.
It appeared to have its epicentre in Gorno-Badakhshan, a semi-autonomous eastern region bordering Afghanistan and China, about 67 kilometres from the small mountain town of Murghob.
About 20 minutes after the initial quake, a 5.0-magnitude aftershock struck the area, followed by a 4.6-magnitude quake.
Lake Sarez is located in the sparsely populated territory surrounded by the towering Pamir Mountains.
The aquamarine-coloured body of water, formed by an earthquake in 1911, is one of Tajikistan’s largest lakes.
A natural dam deep in the Pamir mountains lies behind Lake Sarez, and experts have warned that if the dam fails, the consequences will be disastrous.
Tajikistan, like much of Central Asia, is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters, with a long history of floods, earthquakes, landslides, avalanches, and heavy snowfalls.
Earlier this month, nine people were killed in an avalanche in Gorno-Badakhshan, and another was killed the same day in an avalanche on a highway near Dushanbe.