A MAN has told how he and his wife fled for their lives after getting caught up in an earthquake that killed more than 260 people in Pakistan.

Ibrar Azam and his wife Parveen went out to Pakistan for their nephew’s wedding and were out shopping when the earthquake struck.

The couple, who were also with their sister-in-law, were forced to run for safety when the Metro Superstore in Islamabad started to move during the 7.5 magnitude quake.

Mr Azam, 47, of Browning Avenue, Southend, said: “We were shopping with my sister-in-law and had been in there for about an hour and felt the floor move.

“I said to my wife, did you feel the floor move and she had but I thought it might be something to do with the refrigerators we were standing next to.

“As I looked around everyone was just standing still and not doing anything.

“Then in less than 30 seconds everything started to sway.

“It’s a big industrial building with steel girders and with big lights from the ceiling and it was just rocking.

“The lights were moving and everything was swaying.

“We just ran from there and at that time we didn’t know what was going to happen, the whole building was swaying from left to right as we ran for safety.”

More than two minutes of tremors were felt in the Pakistani capital when the earthquake hit north-eastern Afghanistan in the mountainous Hindu Kush region.

“We kept running and there was at least a hundred people in there and everyone was running to get out of the building and outside,” said Mr Azam. “I got out and looked behind me and couldn’t see my sister-in-law, I didn’t know where she was, she was nowhere to be seen so I went back in to look for her. We found her later on and she had gone out of another exit but we were all safe.”

People frantically called their loved ones to let them know they were safe with Mr Azam desperate to let his four children in Southend know he and his wife were safe.

He said: “It was terrifying and it a few hours later my body was still numb.

“We got outside and everyone was sitting on the ground and were calling their families and checking on everyone’s welfare.

“Straight away I messaged my children who were in Southend.

“Everyone got out of the building ok but we feared for our lives.”

The Azam family safely made their way back to their sister-in-law Tasneem Azam’s home in Rawalpindi. They had been out in Pakistan for a month celebrating their nephew’s wedding and returned home on Tuesday.

Mr Azam said: “I had never experienced anything like that, when the first tremor came my whole body went cold and numb.

“It was the last few days of the holiday and on the Saturday it had been tropical weather and then we had 24 hours of heavy rain and thunder and lightning and then on Monday this happened.

“My wife was already frightful because the building next door to the store had been attacked in a terrorist attack a few weeks before so she was already nervous about being there.

“We were safe but the children were really worried and when they started seeing the pictures on the news they were calling every ten minutes to check we were ok.”

It’s believed more than 260 people died in the quake, at least 12 victims were Afghan schoolgirls killed in a crush as they tried to get out of their building.

The death toll is expected to rise as communication to most severely affected remote areas have been cut off.