At least 20 people have died and dozens others injured following a shallow earthquake in Balochistan province, southwestern Pakistan in the wee hours of Thursday.
The head of Balochistan’s Provincial Disaster Management Authority, Naseer Nasar, confirmed the news adding that the death toll may increase.
According to the National Seismic Monitoring Centre in Islamabad, the epicentre of the earthquake was near Harnai at a depth of around 15 kilometres.
The quake affected Quetta, Sibi, Harnai, Pishin, Qila Saifullah, Chaman, Ziarat and Zhob in Balochistan.
Most of the deaths and injuries were reported from the remote north-eastern district of Harnai. Most of the victims died when the roofs and walls of their mud brick houses collapsed burying them under the ground, News24 reported.
AFP reported that the quake caused electricity to fail in the area, with health staff working until dawn without lights in the district’s poorly equipped government hospital.
Other reports indicated that some 15 coal miners were still trapped in a mine on the outskirts of the town due to the quake.
Meanwhile, army helicopters are at the scene of the tragedy to help evacuate the injured from remote areas to Quetta, the nearest major city. Pakistan straddles the boundary where the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, making the country susceptible to earthquakes.
In 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 in 2005 that killed more than 73 000 people and left about 3.5 million homeless, mainly in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.
A 7.6-magnitude quake in 1935 killed around 30 000 people in Quetta, which at the time was part of British-ruled India.