At least 20 people were killed after a predawn earthquake hit Pakistan on Thursday as most residents slept, according to disaster officials and local news reports.
The quake struck after 3 a.m. local time and had a magnitude of 5.7, according to the United States Geological Survey. It said it had a depth of 6.2 miles, which is considered very shallow and is potentially more dangerous because it is closer to the surface.
The center of the earthquake was about 13 miles northeast of the city of Harnai, in Balochistan Province. It was about 60 miles from Quetta, the provincial capital that is near the Afghan border and where, in 1935, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck, killing up to 60,000 people.
Disaster officials told local reporters that at least 300 people were injured on Thursday. The dead were mostly women and children, according to rescue officials, who said the death toll was expected to rise as relief efforts progressed.
More than 100 mud houses collapsed and others were left damaged, including government buildings, Reuters reported. Hundreds of people were left homeless, Sohail Anwar, deputy commissioner of Harnai, told Reuters.
Video footage showed injured people being treated while lying on stretchers in the street.
Pakistan lies in an area noted for high seismic activity. In 2019, an earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale rocked several cities in northern Pakistan and parts of the Kashmir region under its control, leaving at least 22 people dead and more than 700 wounded. In 2013, a quake with a magnitude of 7.7 struck a remote area of western Pakistan, killing at least 80. A 6.5-magnitude earthquake jolted parts of the southwest in 2008, leaving at least 150 people dead and hundreds more injured.
One of the most devastating quakes in the country’s history was a 7.8-magnitude temblor in 2005 that struck the disputed Kashmir region and rattled parts of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. It killed more than 87,000, injured about 38,000 and destroyed thousands of buildings, including schools and hospitals. Nearly four million people were left homeless.
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