Major earthquake kills 40 in remote region of Pakistan

The impact was felt as far away as Delhi in neighbouring India

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The Independent Online

A major earthquake that has killed more than 40 people so far, causing homes to crumble and residents to flee in a panic, has rocked Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan.

The death toll is expected to rise still further, with the full scale of the damage yet to be assessed. The epicentre of the earthquake was in a remote part of Baluchistan province, its location making it difficult for rescue services to access.

The bulk of the deaths were caused when houses collapsed on their inhabitants, Pakistani emergency officials said. The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the earthquake at 7.8 on the Richter scale.

Baluchistan has long been vulnerable to earthquakes, being the most active seismic area in Pakistan. Earthquakes of around 8 on the Richter scale have been recorded in the region as far back as 1852.

In 1935, twelve years before Pakistan was created, an earthquake of comparable force killed between 30 and 40,000 people in Baluchistan. It was one of the deadliest earthquakes to ever strike the region.

In 2008, an earthquake in the Ziarat district killed over 200 people and left 120,000 homeless.

The human toll is expected to remain smaller this time because the epicentre was in a remote and sparsely populated part of Baluchistan. But the earthquake’s impact was felt as far away as Delhi in neighbouring India.

In Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi, on the coast of the Arabian Sea, residents were jolted by the tremors. In the city’s high rises, office workers felt anxious about the stability of the buildings and hastened to a safe distance on the streets.

Pakistan’s media was also bemused at the sudden appearance of an island off the coast of Gwadar, a port city in Baluchistan. After the tremors settled down, residents said they discovered a patch of land now floating where before there had only been the sea.