ACTNews, PAKISTAN – A 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit southern Pakistan in the early hours of Thursday, killing at least 20 people and injuring more than 200, government officials said. The quake struck Balochistan at 3 a.m local times and a depth of around 20km (12 miles), the US Geological Survey said.
Many of the victims died when roofs and walls collapsed, Suhail Anwar Hashmi, a senior provincial government official, told Agence France-Presse. A woman and six children were among 20 dead, he said.
Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest but least populated and least developed province, consistently ranking at the bottom of national human development indicator rankings.
Most homes in the Harnai area, where the earthquake occurred, are made of mud and stone and are more susceptible to damage from earthquakes in comparison with concrete or brick structures.
Naseer Nasar, the head of Balochistan’s provincial disaster management authority, said that between 15 and 20 people had died but that the toll may increase. Until this news was made, the rescue team had not done a comprehensive data collection.
The worst-affected area was the remote mountainous city of Harnai, in Balochistan, where a lack of paved roads, electricity, and mobile phone coverage has hampered the rescue effort. The earthquake was also felt in Balochistan’s provincial capital, Quetta, which is about 100km west of the epicenter.
Pakistan straddles the boundary where the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, making the country susceptible to earthquakes.
In October 2015, a 7.5-magnitude quake in Pakistan and Afghanistan killed almost 400 people across rugged terrain that impeded relief efforts.
The country was also hit by a 7.6-magnitude quake on October 8, 2005, that killed almost 80,000 people and left about 3.5 million homeless, mainly in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.