This is a developing story

Almost 20 people died and more than 300 wounded as an earthquake of magnitude 5.9 struck parts of Balochistan with rescue teams attempting to clear debris and gain access to the area the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) reported. 

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

The PDMA in its initial reports said that the tremor was felt in Quetta, Sibbi, Muslim Bagh, Pishin, Ziarat, Sanjavi, Zhob, Qila Abdullah and Chaman.

It further said that the exact damage has not yet been confirmed.

The death toll was also confirmed by the Deputy Commissioner of Harnai District Sohail Anwar Hashmi. He said six children were also among the deceased.

The DC said that the injured, which include women and children, have been shifted to the District Headquarters Harnai Hospital.

Hashmi added that government buildings had been damaged as well adding that there are reports that about 15 coal miners are trapped in a mine outside Harnai.

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.

In a tweet, the Chief Minister of Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan Alyani said, “Blood, ambulances, emergency assistance, [helicopters] and rest all things are placed … All departments are working on it.” 

In a statement, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that the security forces reached the affected district for rescue and relief efforts.

Army doctors and paramedics were assisting the civil administration with necessary medical care 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 phones coverage hampered rescue efforts.

ISPR added that almost 9 critically wounded patients were airlifted to the capital Quetta in Pakistan Army helicopters adding that a search and rescue team was being flown in from Rawalpindi to help the already employed rescue team.

Prime Minister Imran Khan shared his condolences and ordered authorities to provide immediate assistance to the victims and conduct an assessment in order to compensate and relieve them.

From his Twitter handler, the PM tweeted, “My condolences and prayers go to the families who lost their loved ones.”

PM Imran Khan added, “I have ordered immediate assistance on an emergency basis for the Harnai, Balochistan, earthquake victims & for an immediate assessment of the damage for timely relief & compensation. My condolences & prayers go to the families who lost their loved ones.”

President Arif Alvi also shared his condolences for the dead and wounded and hoped that the authorities would respond swiftly to assist in relief operations.

In a Tweet, the President wrote, “My condolences to families of those killed in the Harnai Balochistan earthquake. May their souls rest in peace. My prayers are for the injured. I am sure that Provincial & National Disaster Management Authorities will provide quick relief.”

PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also offered condolence to the families of those killed in the quake.

Earlier in June last year, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake had struck several areas of KP, including the provincial capital Peshawar. Prior to that, a magnitude of 6.4 had struck the northern areas of the country as well as Afghanistan. However, no significant loss to life and property was reported in either incident.

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


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