A powerful earthquake has hit different parts of Balochistan this morning. The current confirmed death toll is 165 and thousands of people have been injured who have been shifted to local hospitals. Thousands of homes have been completely destroyed leaving at least 15,000 people homeless in extremely harsh cold weather.
Officials are saying there were two tremors, striking at about 0409 and then 0510 PST followed by at least three aftershocks. While the memories of devastating earthquake of 2005 are still fresh which killed more than 73,000 people in NWFP and Kashmir, this one seems to be of slightly lesser magnitude of 6.4. I was watching Geo Tv and the worst-hit area appears to be Ziarat, about 50km north of Quetta, where hundreds of mostly mud and timber houses have been destroyed in five villages. Although the city of Ziarat is relatively safe but some nearby villages have been complete destroyed and many homes were buried in a landslide triggered by the quake. It follows on the heels of the devastating 2007 cyclone in Balochistan (also here) and the continued political tensions in the province that have all taken a cumilating toll on the population.
Army and FC troops have been sent to quake hit areas and government is claiming that rescue efforts have already begun. But according to media reports, rescue efforts are very slow at the moment and since this area is very cold these days, people are becoming more and more worried as the night approaches. The main issue at the moment is the burial of dead and providing food, medicines and shelter for people who have no shelter. I am hoping that authorities must have learned something from their experience of 2005 and will act quickly and more efficiently this time.
According to Geo Tv:
More than 150 people were killed and hundreds wounded when an earthquake struck different districts of Balochistan on Wednesday morning. State-run television has confirmed the killing of 150 people as 12 aftershocks have been felt so far in the affected areas created fears of more losses of lives and property. According to metrological office, the aftershocks would likely lasts for a week. Meanwhile, 25 doctors and 100 paramedical staff have been deployed in Khawas field hospital. Local officials said that 130 bodies have been recovered so far whereas massive destruction and closure of roads creating obstacles in rescue operations.
Ziarat is the worst hit area where 80 people were killed and majority of houses have been destroyed. Emergency has been imposed in all hospitals of the province. According to geological survey of Quetta, two tremors had struck Balochistan on Wednesday morning, the second one bigger than the first. The magnitude of first tremor was recorded 5 that struck at 4:33 am. Another strong quake hit the areas at 5:10 with magnitude 6.5 created panic among the residents. Rescue operations are underway in quake-hit areas.
BBC has this report on Balochistan quake:
At least 160 people have been killed after an earthquake of 6.4 magnitude hit Balochistan province in south-western Pakistan, officials say. Officials in Balochistan say they expect the toll to rise. The tremor struck 70km (45 miles) north of Quetta at 0409 (2309GMT Tuesday) at a depth of 10km (6.2 miles), the US Geological Survey said. Many houses collapsed during the quake and some were destroyed in landslides that followed it, officials said. Reports say teams of army and paramilitary Frontier Corps troops are in the area, helping to rescue the injured and retrieve bodies.
Senior army official Major General Salim Nawaz said the area remained accessible for convoys carrying relief material. However, the mountainous region is thinly populated and local infrastructure is poor, making it difficult to get a clear picture of the casualties.Provincial Revenue Minister Zamrak Khan told Reuters news agency that many affected areas had still not yet been reached. And a local television correspondent reported that some people in villages outside Quetta were angry that no rescue teams had arrived on the scene.
There were two tremors, striking at about 0409 and then 0510. Officials say there have also been at least three aftershocks. Many stunned survivors spent the rest of the night in the open, with little more than the clothes in which they had been sleeping. The worst-hit area appeared to be Ziarat, about 50km north of Quetta, where hundreds of mostly mud and timber houses had been destroyed in five villages, mayor Dilawar Kakar said. Some homes were buried in a landslide triggered by the quake, he said.
“Our rescuers are still working but we’ve recovered 160 bodies from various villages in Ziarat,” he said. “There is great destruction. Not a single house is intact,” he added. He said hundreds more people had been injured and some 15,000 made homeless. “I would like to appeal to the whole world for help. We need food, we need medicine. People need warm clothes, blankets because it is cold here,” he said.
Another senior official in Ziarat, Sohail-ur-Rehman, said that the authorities were also scrambling to bury the dead. “Graves are being dug with excavators as we can’t keep dead bodies in the open,” he told the Reuters news agency. In the village of Sohi, a reporter for AP Television News saw the bodies of 17 people killed in one collapsed house and 12 from another. Distraught residents were digging a mass grave in which to bury them. “We can’t dig separate graves for each of them, as the number of deaths is high and still people are searching in the rubble,” village elder Shamsullah Khan said.
In the nearby town of Kawas, dozens of dead and injured were brought to a hospital in Kawas in Ziarat district. A doctor there, Mohammed Irfan, told the Associated Press news agency that the hospital was unable to cope with the number of injured. Nearby Pishin district was also hit, and at least five people died there. “We were fast asleep when the tremor struck. We grabbed the children and ran outside. The earth continued shaking for more than a minute,” said resident Habibullah.
The quake was also felt in Quetta itself.
“There were two tremors, the second one was serious and people rushed out of their houses,” said resident Amjad Hussain. Quetta suffered almost complete destruction in an earthquake in 1935, with the death of about 30,000 people. More than 73,000 people were killed in an earthquake in north-west Pakistan in October 2005 and almost an equal number were seriously injured.
We pray for the victims and their families and hope that God gives them courage to overcome this difficult time. We also appeal to everyone to come forward and help as much they can just like we did in 2005.