At least 20 people were killed and nearly 200 injured after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake hit southwestern Pakistan, mountainous city of Harnai in Balochistan, in the early hours of Thursday. The earthquake was also felt in Balochistan’s provincial capital, Quetta, which is about 100km west of the epicenter. Tremors also were felt in Sibbi, Pishin, Muslim Bagh, Ziarat, Qila Abdullah, Sanjavi, Zhob and ChamanThe US Geological Survey said it was a 5.9 magnitude quake. More than 100 mud houses have collapsed. Government buildings had been damaged as well.Many of the victims died when roofs and walls collapsed. A woman and six children were among dead. Several of the injured were rushed to hospital in critical condition. “Since 3 a.m. the rescue operation has been underway. The injured have been taken to the hospital via helicopter,” said Sohail Afridi, the district commissioner. Harnai has a large number of coal mines which could collapse during quakes.
A road leading to Harnai has been blocked by a landslide. Naseer Nasar, the head of Balochistan’s provincial disaster management authority, said that the dead toll may increase. Pakistan is situated 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. 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.