At least 20 people have been killed and more than 300 injured after a powerful 5.9 magnitude earthquake rocked a mountainous part of Pakistan's Baluchistan province on Thursday, October 7, 2021, causing several houses to collapse.
Disaster management officials said the death toll could rise, according to Geo News.
The Islamabad National Seismic Observatory reported that the epicenter of the earthquake was near Harnai at a depth of about 15 kilometers. He further said the "exact damage" had yet to be confirmed.
The earthquake struck Quetta, Sibi, Harnai, Pishin, Qila Saifullah, Chaman, Ziarat, and Zhob in Balochistan.
Most of the deaths and injuries were reported in the remote northeastern district of Harnai.
The US Geological Survey said it was a 5.9 magnitude earthquake that struck at shallow depth. Shallow earthquakes can cause more damage.
The death toll of 20 was confirmed by Harnai Sohail District Deputy Commissioner Anwar Hashmi.
The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) said many of the dead were women and children.
Images on social media showed residents of Quetta town on the streets in the aftermath of the earthquake, the Dawn newspaper reported.
Aftershocks are still being felt in several regions. The first tremors were felt at 3:20 a.m., after which panicked citizens rushed out of their homes reciting verses from the Holy Quran. Rescue and rescue activities are underway, with an emergency declared in all hospitals.
According to Hashmi, several people were rushed to the hospital in critical condition. He said several buildings in Harnai were damaged. Many people were buried under the rubble.
More than 100 mud houses collapsed, leaving hundreds of people homeless. Power to the area has been cut off, he said.
Prime Minister of Balochistan, Jam Kamal Khan Alyani, said relief and evacuation efforts were underway.
"Blood, ambulances, emergency aid, [helicopters] and rest, everything has been fixed ... All departments are working on it," he tweeted.
The region has the highest seismicity rates and the largest earthquakes in the Himalayan region, mostly caused by movement over the overlying faults. The country has experienced several earthquakes in recent years.
One of the worst earthquakes to hit the country in recent years occurred on October 8, 2005, killing more than 74,000 people.