At least 20 people killed, hundreds more injured as shallow tremors rock remote region of province
At least 20 people were killed and over 300 others injured early on Thursday after a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck parts of Balochistan, according to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), which said most of the deceased were children. Authorities have warned that the death toll might rise.
According to the National Seismic Monitoring Center, the epicenter of the quake occurred close to the Harnai district at a depth of 15km, though tremors were also experienced in provincial capital Quetta, Sibi, Pishin, Chaman, Ziarat, Zhob and Qila Saifullah. Aftershocks continued for several hours after the initial tremors.
Videos shared on social media showed parked vehicles shaking as the initial tremors hit, as well as homes that had collapsed and entire families that had been forced into the open, as they no longer possessed any viable shelter.
While the PDMA said it was too early to confirm the exact nature of the damage incurred, Harnai Deputy Commissioner Sohail Anwar Hashmi said there were six children among the deceased, and the injured had been transferred to the District Headquarters Hospital.
“All assistance and evacuations are underway for the Harnai earthquake,” Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan said in a series of posts on Twitter. Assuring the public that all relevant departments were working on the rescue efforts, he said around 8 critical patients had already been transferred to Quetta via Army helicopter.
According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), security forces had been deployed to Harnai district to aid in the rescue and relief efforts. It said that Army doctors and paramedics were assisting the civil administration with necessary medical care, adding that food and medicines were also being transported to the affected area. The military’s media wing also said that the inspector general of the Balochistan Frontier Corps had reached Harnai for damage assessment and response measures.
Speaking to media, Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Langove said five to six districts had been badly affected, but data was still being collected to ascertain a true picture of the situation. He said the highest number of deaths and injuries had been reported from Harnai.
“They are our people, the state’s resources are for them. People won’t be left helpless. Those who have suffered a loss will be compensated,” he told Geo News.
Pakistan lies on the boundary where the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates, making it particularly susceptible to earthquakes. The worse quake to hit the country in recent memory occurred in October 2005, killing over 73,000 people and leaving millions homeless in the country’s north. A decade later, in October 2015, a 7.5-magnitude quake in Pakistan and Afghanistan killed almost 400 people.