At least 10,000 people have been left homeless in Tajikistan after an earthquake hit the Gorno-Badakhshansky region in the east of the country.

The Emergency Situations and Civil Defence Committee said no casualties were reported after the magnitude 5.3 quake struck about 10 villages in the Pamir Mountains.

Azimdzhon Shamsiddinov, the deputy head of the Vanj district, on Sunday, said: "1,050 residential buildings were destroyed in our region."

He said residents had left their homes as they felt the first tremors of the quake a day earlier.

Many more houses were damaged, officials said, and dozens of sheep and goats killed.

Extensive damage

Two schools and a clinic were also destroyed, and electricity supplies and communications were cut off by the quake.

The quake came as the Central Asian nation is approaching its coldest time of the year, with temperatures going down to -20 degrees Celsius.

Authorities said they were assessing damages, but their work was complicated by the location of the destroyed villages. The main road between the regional centre, the town of Vanj, and nearby villages, was blocked.

Shamsiddinov said preliminary damage estimates were between $1m and $1.5m.

Some residents in the Vanj district said they were afraid there could be another quake in the coming days.

"We live as if we were on a volcano," Nazarbek Shodiyenov, a villager, said.

"We feel constantly scared that an earthquake will strike again ... There is a feeling that the earth is constantly moving."

Earthquakes are relatively frequent in Tajikistan, which is one of the poorest of the former Soviet nations.