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Pakistan earthquake leaves 20 dead, over 300 injured

 Omer Farooq Khan / TNN / Oct 8, 2021, 07:17 IST

ISLAMABAD: At least 20 people were killed and more than 300 injured after an earthquake struck Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province on Thursday morning.

According to the National Seismic Monitoring Centre, the earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale was centred in the province’s Harnai district, about 100km east of the provincial capital Quetta, and occurred at a depth of 20km. It took place at 3am when most of the residents were asleep.


The provincial disaster management authority said that rescue efforts have been hampered due to landslides caused by the earthquake. The authority said they were clearing the roads leading to damaged areas. Though the tremors were felt in several districts and towns of the restive province, Harnai is said to be the worst-hit region,

where most of the houses are made of mud and stone, and are more at risk of damage from such calamities. The area has also a large number of coalmines, which could collapse during quakes.

Many of the deaths had occurred due to collapse of roofs and walls. The dead included women and children.

Rescue officials said that they will be able to conduct a more accurate assessment of the damage once they have access to all quake-hit areas. However, locals said that more than 200 houses had been damaged.

Pakistan’s military, which has a significant presence in Balochistan due to multiple security challenges in the province, said some rescuers had reached the affected areas of Harnai and nine of the critically injured had been airlifted to Quetta.

Army doctors and paramedics, with necessary food and shelter items, were helping civilian officials in providing care to those affected by the disaster, the military’s media wing said in a statement. The handout added that an urban search and rescue team was being flown from Rawalpindi to speed up and assist in rescue activities.

Prime minister Imran Khan has “ordered immediate assistance on an emergency basis” to residents of the area and directed authorities to conduct an assessment so that relief and compensation could be dispensed. “My condolences and prayers go to the families who lost their loved ones,” he tweeted.

The security situation in Balochistan, where local Baloch insurgents have been fighting against the state, has been tense since 2006 when an operation was launched against the local tribes, who have been demanding autonomy.

After the killing of former governor and politician Nawab Akbar Bhugti in a military offensive in 2006, Balochi nationalists had toughened their stance and launched a separatist movement. The Baloch people have serious concerns over the $60b-plus China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that starts with a deep sea port in the strategically important town of Gwadar and linking it with Xinjiang in China.