Earthquake in Balochistan: Hundreds Dead, Thousands Injured

Posted on October 29, 2008
Filed Under >Darwaish, Disasters
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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.

35 responses to “Earthquake in Balochistan: Hundreds Dead, Thousands Injured”

  1. Imran Mirza says:

    Thank you Nasir, Darwaish and Aamir for very useful information. I tried several government websites and they never have to the point specific information that one needs to help.

    Darwaish, I also agree with your tents point. Tents are not going to be very useful for Balochi brothers and sisters. They need immediate cash so that they could rebuild their homes before snowfall.

    May Allah give us courage to help more.

  2. Aamir says:

    Online donation here :

    * Hidaya Foundation

    * CARE 1029_pakistan.asp

    * Mercy Corps

    *Islamic Relief USA

    I made my donations, now so should you! Pakistan Paindabad.

  3. Darwaish says:

    Humanoid: I totally agree with what you have said. I think the best thing we can do is spread the message and take some practical steps to help.

    It should also be understood that the need of the hour is food, medicines and distributing cash among the victims. Tents are definitely NOT a good option because of the very very cold weather in Ziarat and surrounding areas. Even if you give them tents, it would be helpful for 2-3 weeks only as after the snowfall, these tents will be useless. Much better option than tents would be to setup temporary shelters which can stay warm. We need to distribute cash to families immediately so that they can re-built their homes and we need to help them in this activity. That’s the best we can do in my humble view. I would recommend anyone going there to take food, medicines and cash with them.

    As far as donations are concerned, Eidhi is the best and safest option in my view but there are some other organizations too like Muslim Aid Pakistan, Pakistan Medical Association. I think organizations like CARE Foundation Pakistan or SOS Village are also helping because most of the victims are, unfortunately, children again. You can check their websites and call them to find out how you can help.

    There are NDMA, ERRA and some others in government sector but looking at their past performance, I would not recommend anyone to donate their. Balochistan Government is unfortunately full of tribal chiefs and clowns who are unable to tell us even rough estimates of damages and casualties. It seems they are least worried about people. I couldn’t find an organized web portal of any sort which has information about the relief organizations working in Balochistan right now and how we can help.

    Hope this is helpful.

  4. raza ali khan says:

    Islamic relief has been involved in terrorist financing and people in the US and europe should avoid it. Hidaya seems to be trying to do a better job conforming with laws in such case but beware of who you give money to. I am not giving a penny but if I were edhi is the only choice.

  5. raza ali khan says:

    I will not be sending a penny. This is a province where all 46 members of the legislature are ministers. And not one of them has any idea what to do other than to ask for the Pakistan Army to come help. Lets just hope the three rebel tribes don’t make minefields of the roads in the area for an easy Army kill.

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