ISLAMABAD: At least 20 people have been killed and more than 300 injured in an earthquake that struck Pakistan’s southwestern Pakistani province on Thursday morning.
According to the National Seismic Monitoring Center, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake on the Richter scale was concentrated in the state of Harnai province, about 100 miles east of the provincial capital Quetta, and occurred at a depth of 20km. It happened at 3am when most of the residents were asleep.
The provincial disaster management officer said rescue efforts had been hampered by landslides. Authorities say they are removing roads leading to the damaged areas. Although the quake was felt in many districts and cities in the affected province, Harnai is said to be the worst hit region, where many houses are built of mud and stone, and are at high risk of injury from these disasters. This area has a large number of coalmines, which can collapse during an earthquake.
Many deaths have occurred as a result of the collapse of roofs and walls. The dead included women and children. Rescue officials said they would be able to make a more accurate assessment of the damage if they were able to reach all the quake areas. However, locals said more than 200 houses had been demolished.
The Pakistani military, which has a strong presence in Balochistan due to many security challenges in the province, said some rescuers had reached the affected areas of Harnai and nine of the seriously injured were airlifted to Quetta.
Military and paramedics, with needed food and shelter, were assisting community officials in providing care for those affected by the disaster, the military news agency said in a statement. The property also added that there was a team to search and rescue in the cities from Rawalpindi to speed up and assist with rescue operations.
Prime Minister Imran Khan “ordered emergency assistance” to residents of the area and ordered authorities to conduct a search for help and compensation. “My condolences and prayers go to the families of those who lost their loved ones,” she wrote on Twitter.
The security situation in Balochistan, where local Baloch rebels have been fighting the state, has been tense since 2006 with the launch of an anti-apartheid movement in the region. After the assassination of former governor and politician Nawab Akbar Bhugti during a 2006 military coup, activists in Balochi changed their status and formed a separatist movement. The people of Baloch are very concerned about the $ 60b-plus China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which starts at the deep sea port in the most important city of Gwadar and connects it to Xinjiang in China.