At least 20 people were killed and more than 300 injured in an earthquake of magnitude 5.9 that hit Balochistan province of Pakistan in the early hours of Thursday, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) said.
The earthquake was centred near the province’s Harnai district and had a depth of 15 kilometres, said the National Seismic Monitoring Centre.
Initial reports of the PDMA said while the tremors were felt in Quetta, Sibbi, Pishin, Muslim Bagh, Ziarat, Qila Abdullah, Sanjavi, Zhob and Chaman, the exact damage is yet to be ascertained.
Deputy Commissioner of Harnai District Sohail Anwar Hashmi confirmed the death toll and said among the killed were six children, and the injured were shifted to District Headquarters Hospital in Harnai.
In a tweet, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani said: “Blood, ambulances, emergency assistance, Heli and rest all things are placed… All departments are working on it.”
In another tweet, he said: “All assistance and evacuations are underway for the #harnaiearthquake Medical, local administration and disaster management teams are on high alert and mobilised.”
The army also reached the district to start rescue and relief operations, said Inter-Service Public Relation (ISPR), a media and public relations wing of the Pakistan Army.
According to the statement nine critically injured were airlifted to Quetta in Army helicopters, adding that Army doctors and paramedics were assisting the civil administration with necessary medical care.
“The inspector general of Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan has reached the district for damage assessment and response. In addition, an urban search and rescue team was being flown in from Rawalpindi to assist in rescue work,” the statement said.
Prime Minister Imran Khan called for an immediate assessment of the damage. He tweeted “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 of Pakistan Arif Alvi also tweeted about the loss of lives and shared his condolences. He 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.”