QUETTA – A 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck the southwestern region of Pakistan, collapsing a coal mine and causing at least 20 deaths and hundreds of injuries.
According to Suhail Anwar Shaheen, the local deputy commissioner, the death toll is set to rise further as rescuers make their way through this rugged mountainous region and amidst the rubble.
At least four of the dead were killed under the rubble of the mine, Shaheen said. The earthquake’s epicenter was about 15 kilometers northeast of Harnai in the province of Balochistan, according to the US Geological Survey, about 9 kilometers below the earth’s surface. The quake occurred early this morning, while dozens of miners were already at work.
The area, which is 100 kilometers from Quetta, the provincial capital, is dotted with coal mines, which is why the death toll is feared to rise.
The Pakistani army was deployed to the earthquake area to transport the wounded from the mountain peaks by plane.
“The women, the children, everyone was running around stunned,” resident Ghulam Khan told theAssociated Press. “We were afraid and didn’t know what to do. ”
Doctors treated patients outside the hospital as the 4.6 magnitude aftershocks continued throughout the morning. “We have treated more than 200 victims so far,” Manzoor Ahmed, medical superintendent of Harnai District Hospital, told the PA.
Most of the population of this area lives in mud houses, many of which have collapsed. The area is remote and in the mountains, with night temperatures below 0.
According to the provincial disaster management authority, Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan is in a seismically active region. The worst earthquake, in 1935, destroyed the provincial capital, killing more than 35 thousand people. Since then, dozens of earthquakes have rocked the province, the least populated in Pakistan with just 12 million people.
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