ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A pre-dawn earthquake struck southwestern Pakistan on Thursday as most residents slept, killing at least 20 and causing hundreds of residential and office buildings to collapse. announced officials.
The magnitude 5.9 earthquake, which struck after 3 a.m. local time, inflicted heavy damage on the town of Harnai in southwestern Balochistan province. After dozens of houses collapsed, hundreds of people were left injured and homeless.
The United States Geological Survey said the quake was about 5.6 miles deep, which is considered very shallow and potentially more dangerous because it is closer to the surface. The center of the earthquake was about 60 miles from Quetta, the provincial capital close to the Afghan border. It was there that in 1935, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck, killing up to 60,000 people.
Those responsible for the disaster said the death toll from Thursday’s earthquake is expected to rise. The Pakistani military said its troops had reached the area to help with rescue operations. “Army doctors and paramedics, along with necessary medication, are helping the civilian administration provide needed medical care,” the military’s media wing said in a statement.
Video footage showed injured people being treated by the light of cellphones as they lay on stretchers in the street. At least nine seriously injured people were evacuated by helicopter to Quetta for treatment.
A state of emergency was imposed on the Quetta civilian hospital, where authorities called on all medical staff for help.
Pakistan is located in an area known for its strong seismic activity. In 2019, an earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale rocked several towns in northern Pakistan and parts of the Kashmir region under its control, killing at least 22 and injuring more than 700. In 2013, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck a remote region in western Pakistan, killing at least 80 people. A 6.5 magnitude earthquake rocked parts of the southwest in 2008, killing at least 150 people and injuring hundreds.
One of the most devastating earthquakes in the country’s history was a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 2005 that struck the disputed region of Kashmir and rocked parts of Pakistan, India and the ‘Afghanistan. It killed more than 87,000 people, injured around 38,000 others and destroyed thousands of buildings, including schools and hospitals. Almost four million people were left homeless.
Salman Massoud reported in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Azi Paybarah from Seoul, South Korea.