Powerful earthquake jolts Balochistan, killing at least 20

Oct 7, 2021: At least 20 people were killed and more than 300 injured in a powerful earthquake in different parts of Balochistan on Thursday morning.

Strong aftershocks were felt in different areas.

The first tremors were felt at 3:20 a.m., after which frightened citizens rushed out of their homes, reciting the Kalima Tayyaba. Emergency and relief activities are underway in all the hospitals in the affected areas. According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), most of the dead were children.

Areas impacted by the quake include Quetta, Sibi, Harnai, Pishin, Qila Saifullah, Chaman, Ziarat and Zhob in Balochistan.

The magnitude of the quake was measured at 5.9 on the Richter scale.

There is fear that casualties are likely to rise.

According to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), rescue and relief operations are underway in Balochistan following the devastating earthquake. An NDMA spokesman said on Twitter that a special rescue and relief team of the Pakistan Army was being airlifted to Quetta and Harnai.

According to the seismological center, the epicenter was at a depth of 15 km near Harnai. Most of the damage appears to be affecting Harnai district, officials said. Harnai, located east of the provincial capital Quetta, has a large number of coal mines.

A medical emergency has been declared at Civil Hospital Quetta where doctors and other paramedical staff have been called back on an emergency basis.

Social media showed houses shaking and light waves with the tremors, and later stunned residents who had gathered in the dark on the street. The injured were rushed to a hospital, while others were treated on a stretcher in the street under a phone flashlight.

This part of Pakistan sits on the point where the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, making the country earthquake-prone. In October 2015, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake in Pakistan and Afghanistan killed at least 400 people in rugged terrain, hampering relief efforts.

The country was also hit by a magnitude 7.6 earthquake on October 8, 2005, which killed more than 73,000 people and left about 3.5 million homeless, mainly in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

 

According to a statement issued by the ISPR, food and shelter have been shifted to the quake-hit population. The ISPR statement said that Army doctors and paramedics were assisting the civil administration with essential medicines.

The ISPR said that nine critically injured people were airlifted to Quetta by Pakistan Air Force helicopters. The Balochistan (North) IGFC has also reached Harnai to assess the damage, while a civilian search and rescue team is being dispatched from Rawalpindi to speed up and assist in relief efforts.

DC Harnai, Sohail Anwar Hashmi says, several people have been rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

According to the deputy commissioner, several buildings in Harnai have been damaged while many people have been left buried under the rubble. He said some government structures also were destructed. The power supply to the area has been suspended, he said.

He also said Levies and rescue teams have been dispatched to help and evacuate the affected people.

On ground rescue sources say more than 70 houses were reported damaged in Harnai.

Till now bodies of 10 people, including six children, and over 150 wounded people have been shifted to the hospital, according the MS Harnai Hospital.

Balochistan Interior Minister Ziaullah Lango initially confirmed that 15 people had been killed in the quake. According to Balochistan Home Minister, PDMA has sent heavy machinery and rescue teams to the affected areas from Quetta.

He said there were reports of damage in Ziarat, Qila Saifullah and Sibi while most of the deaths took place in Harnai. According to Ziaullah Lango, most people are still trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings.

Further commenting on the damage wrought by the powerful quake, he said there are reports of damage coming Ziarat, Qila Saifullah and Sibi also. “We will not leave people without help. We will make up for the losses,” he said.

Meanwhile, an emergency was also enforced in Quetta hospitals as the more seriously injured are shifted there.

Landslides are making access to some areas limited and so relief efforts may take some time.

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