Islamabad, Oct 7 (EFE).- A powerful earthquake killed at least 20 people, including children, and injured hundreds in the southwest of Pakistan early on Thursday, officials said.
Mir Ziaullah Langau, provincial interior minister, told EFE that the quake jolted people of the Harnai city in the restive and impoverished Balochistan province out of their sleep around 3.30 am.
Noor Khan, a disaster management officer, said that “20 people are killed and more than 300 are injured.”
Khan said two helicopters flew to the city to airlift the seriously injured to the provincial capital of Quetta.
Officials have begun a largescale relief and rescue operation.
“So far, we do not have any information about the damage. Our teams are in the area and collecting details of the damage,” Khan told EFE.
The officials feared that the death toll could rise.
The United States Geological Survey estimated that the quake measured 5.9 on the Richter scale.
Its epicenter was 9 km east of Harnai city.
The provincial minister said the rescue efforts had begun with heavy machinery dispatched to the affected areas for search efforts.
“A state of emergency has been imposed in the Harnai district and the provincial disaster management authority is looking after the rescue efforts,” the minister said.
Authorities have urged doctors and other medical staff to report for emergency duties at hospitals.
“I think there will be more deaths,” Ziaullah said.
He said most of the people died in house and wall collapses.
The affected area is located in the east of Quetta and is home to large coal mines.
The South Asian region is prone to earthquakes due to its proximity to the Himalayas, where the two great continental plates of India and Eurasia collide, converging at a relative speed of 40 to 50 millimeters per year.
A 7.7 magnitude earthquake in Balochistan killed 360 deaths in 2013.
In September 2019, a 5.6 magnitude quake hit Pakistani Kashmir, killing 37 and wounding more than 500. EFE