JNN 25 Sept 2013 Quetta : A powerful 7.7-magnitude earthquake hit southwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, killing hundreds in Balochistan, besides creating a new island off the Gwadar coastline in its wake, Express News reported.
Tremors were felt as far as the Indian capital New Delhi.
The Deputy Speaker Balochistan Assembly stated that at least 150 people had died from the disaster in the province.
The quake struck at 4:29 pm local time (1129 GMT) around 100 kilometres (60 miles) southwest of the city of Khuzdar in Balochistan province, at a depth of 15 kilometres.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) measured the earthquake at magnitude 7.7, recording its duration as eight seconds.
The area most affected by the quake were Awaran and Khuzdar, with over 90% of the villages/communities in Awaran were destroyed.
Pakistan Army started an emergency rescue operation immediately.
Director General ISPR, Major General Asim Bajwa tweeted that 300 soldiers are already in the area, with the number expected to rise to 1000 by tomorrow morning. Khuzdar would be used as base for the rescue effort.
Island Occurrence Near Gwadar
On the Gwadar coastline, the quake created a small island about half a mile into the sea near an area called ‘Jhanda’, according to Express News.
The newly appearing island is said to have a mountainous terrain rising up to a hundred feet. A large crowd was seen gathering at the site to see the new island.
The area of the epicentre is sparsely populated, but the USGS issued a red alert for the quake, which left aftershocks of up to 5.9 magnitude, according to the meteorological department.
Minor tremors were felt as far away as New Delhi, while office workers in the city of Ahmedabad near the border with Pakistan ran out of buildings and into the street.
Mumtaz Baluch, senior local administration official in Awaran district, 350 kilometres southwest of Quetta, told AFP: “There are reports of houses being collapsed in the district due to earthquake.”
“We have dispatched our teams to the affected area to ascertain the losses.”
In April a 7.8-magnitude quake centred in southeast Iran, close to the border with Baluchistan, killed 41 people and affected more than 12,000 on the Pakistan side of the border.
People working in offices Karachi rushed out of their building and sat on the footpaths along the roads or stood away from the buildings.
“My work table jerked a bit and again and I impulsively rushed outside,” Noor Jabeen, a 28-year woman working for an insurance company said while breathing heavily.
“It was not so intense but it was terrible,” said Owais Khan, who works for a provincial government office.
“Whenever I feel jolts it reminds me of the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir,” said Amjad Ali, 45, IT official standing on the road said.
Rescue Doctors attacked
Paramedical staff dispatched to remote areas of Awaran for providing medical aid to those injured due to the earthquake came under attack.
Our correspondent reported that the doctors came under attack from unknown assailants near Awaran. However, there were no reports of any loss of life.
Meanwhile, the Balochistan government spokesperson Jan Muhammad Buledi told a press conference in Quetta on Tuesday that they had started relief and rescue work in the earthquake affected zones.
Buledi said that the earthquake had affected six districts in the province including Awaran, Kech, Khuzdar, Panjgur, Chaghi, Gwadar.
“On the instructions of the Chief Minister, we are providing immediate relief goods and medical attention.”
In this regards, Buledi said that all other NGOs including Edhi and international organisations and local welfare organisations are being facilitated as much as possible including on the issue of law and order
He said that the death toll stood at 33, though he added that the death toll was feared to rise.