Buildings have been destroyed within a 15-kilometre radius of the epicentre in Harnai district. The fate of a group of 15 miners trapped underground is a source of concern.
Quetta (AsiaNews) – A strong earthquake measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale hit Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, in the western part of the country.
The epicentre was in Harnai, a district a hundred kilometres from the provincial capital of Quetta.
So far, 20 people have been confirmed dead with 300 injured; however, the toll is expected to rise since the quake triggered landslides making it hard for rescue teams to reach certain mountainous areas.
According to preliminary reports, six children are among the dead, while the local civil protection agency reported a number of collapsed and badly damaged buildings.
There is also concern for a group of 15 miners trapped in a coal mine.
The earthquake was also felt in Quetta and other Baluchi districts.
Pakistani authorities deployed the army and emergency teams in Harnai. The most seriously injured have already been evacuated by helicopters.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his condolences the victims’ families and pledged immediate aid.
Baluchistan is a large region that borders Afghanistan and Iran. Together with the north-western regions of Pakistan, it has recently come under pressure from the influx of Afghan refugees who, through the Spin Boldak-Chaman border crossing, are trying to reach Quetta.
Officially the border between the two countries is closed to migrants but according to the UNHCR, at least 9,000 asylum seekers have managed to enter Pakistan.
Before the current crisis, the country hosted more than 1,4 million Afghans, UNHCR data show.
For many today Baluchistan is a transit region to illegally enter Iran and from there try to reach Europe.