At least 15 killed as 5.9-magnitude earthquake rocks parts of Balochistan

Published October 7, 2021
Residents gather next to the debris of their houses that collapsed following an earthquake in the remote mountainous district of Harnai on Thursday. — AFP
Residents gather next to the debris of their houses that collapsed following an earthquake in the remote mountainous district of Harnai on Thursday. — AFP
People gather outside their houses following a severe earthquake, in Quetta on Thursday. — AP
People gather outside their houses following a severe earthquake, in Quetta on Thursday. — AP
People gather outside a hospital following an earthquake in Harnai, Balochistan. — Reuters via social media
People gather outside a hospital following an earthquake in Harnai, Balochistan. — Reuters via social media

At least 15 people were killed while more than 150 were injured after a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck parts of Balochistan early on Thursday.

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani confirmed the death toll and the number of injured citizens while speaking to the media during a visit to District Headquarter Hospital (DHQ) Harnai.

He said that the rescue operation had been completed and the provincial administration will extend all possible cooperation to those affected by the calamity.

Earlier, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) had said that 20 people had died and more than 300 were injured in the earthquake. The death toll was also confirmed by Harnai Deputy Commissioner Sohail Anwar Hashmi.

However, the Balochistan CM said that at the time, authorities were still collecting data from different hospitals as it was during the initial stages. He said that authorities had managed to compile all the data which showed that 15 people had died.

He said that more than 200 houses had also been affected in the quake.

Balochistan Governor Syed Zahoor Ahmed Agha, who had also accompanied the CM to the hospital, reiterated that the provincial government will help those affected by the quake.

Quake centered near Harnai

According to the National Seismic Monitoring Centre, the earthquake was centred near the province's Harnai district and had a depth of 15 kilometres. It added the quake had a longitude of 67.96 east and a latitude of 30.08 north.

Tremors were felt in Quetta, Sibbi, Pishin, Muslim Bagh, Ziarat, Qila Abdullah, Sanjavi, Zhob and Chaman, the PDMA said in its initial report. It further said the "exact damage" had not yet been confirmed.

Earlier, Harnai Deputy Commissioner Sohail Anwar Hashmi had said that at least 20 people had died, adding that six children were also among the deceased. The injured, which include women and children, were shifted to the DHQ Hospital in Harnai, he said.

In a tweet earlier today, the Balochistan CM said had said that assistance and evacuation efforts were under way. "Blood, ambulances, emergency assistance, [helicopters] and rest all things are placed ... All departments are working on it," Alyani said.

Security forces also reached the district for rescue and relief efforts, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

Army doctors and paramedics were assisting the civil administration with necessary medical care, it said, adding that food and medicines were also transported to remote mountainous district Harnai, which was the worst-affected area where a lack of paved roads, electricity and mobile phone coverage hampered rescue efforts.

Nine critically injured patients were airlifted to Quetta in Pakistan Army helicopters, according to the statement.

The ISPR statement said the inspector general of Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan had reached the district for damage assessment and response. In addition, an urban search and rescue team was being flown in from Rawalpindi to assist in rescue work.

An injured patient is being airlifted from Harnai to Quetta. — Photo via NDMA
An injured patient is being airlifted from Harnai to Quetta. — Photo via NDMA

PM Imran, others call for immediate relief efforts, offer condolence

Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered authorities to provide immediate assistance to Harnai and the quake victims, and conduct an assessment so relief and compensation could be dispensed.

"My condolences and prayers go to the families who lost their loved ones," he tweeted.

President Arif Alvi shared his condolences over the loss of lives in the earthquake. He hoped the authorities would swiftly assist in relief operations.

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said he was also saddened over the loss of lives.

"The authorities must act on war footing to rehabilitate those affected by this disaster," he stated on Twitter.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also offered condolence to the families of those killed in the quake.

He also called upon the federal and provincial governments to save the lives of those injured and pay compensation to the families of the deceased.

"PPP Balochistan leadership should help the earthquake affectees," he added.

Landsliding, infrastructural damage

Speaking to Geo News, PDMA Director General Naseer Ahmed Nasir said there had been some landsliding in mountainous areas. He added that houses within a 15km radius of Harnai had been destroyed and rescue teams were busy in relief efforts.

The official said that government buildings had been damaged as well.

“There are reports that some 15 coal miners are trapped in a mine on the outskirts of the town due to the quake,” Suhail Anwar Hashmi, a senior provincial government official in Harnai told AFP.

Separately, Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Langove said five to six districts were affected on a "major scale" and data was still being collected.

He said the highest number of deaths and injuries had been reported in Harnai, adding that critical patients would be shifted to Quetta immediately.

"They are our people, the state's resources are for them. People won't be left helpless. Those who have suffered a loss will be compensated," the minister said while speaking to Geo News.

In August, an earthquake of 3.1 magnitude had jolted Karachi. The tremors spread panic among locals, however, no casualties or damage was reported.

In June last year, an earthquake of 5.7 magnitude was recorded in several areas of KP, including the provincial capital Peshawar. Prior to that, another quake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale had struck the northern areas of the country as well as Afghanistan. No significant loss to life and property was reported in either incident.

In September 2019, however, an earthquake had struck several areas of southern Azad Jammu and Kashmir, claiming the lives of 38 people and leaving hundreds of others injured.


Additional reporting by Fahad Chaudhry.

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