2021 Balochistan earthquake
|UTC time||2021-10-06 22:01:10|
|Local date||7 October 2021|
|Local time||03:01 PKT|
|Magnitude||5.9 Mwb(USGS) |
|Depth||9.0 km (5.6 mi)|
|Max. intensity||VII (Very strong)|
|Aftershocks||mb 4.6 & 4.5|
|Casualties||26 dead, 300 injured, 15 missing|
An earthquake struck Pakistan's province of Balochistan near the city of Harnai on 7 October 2021. The moment magnitude 5.9 Mwb quake struck in the early morning at 03:31 local time, killing at least 26, injuring 300, and leaving 15 missing. The earthquake occurred just one day before the anniversary of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake.
Pakistan is directly influenced by the ongoing oblique convergence between the Indian Plate and Eurasian Plate. Along the northern margin of the India-Eurasia convergent boundary is the Main Himalayan Thrust which accommodates north-south continental collision. Thrust faulting in the Hindu Kush and Himalaya region is the direct result of the plate interaction. In the Balochistan region, the convergence is highly oblique, involving the large Chaman Fault; a left-lateral strike-slip structure. While a large portion of the boundary is accommodated by strike-slip faulting, the region also hosts the Sulaiman fold and thrust belt. Major thrusting and folding have occurred within the ~10-km-thick sedimentary rocks which sits atop the India-Eurasia plate boundary; a near-horizontal, north-dipping décollement. The 2005 Kashmir earthquake occurred near the vicinity of the Main Himalayan Thrust. The more recent and larger magnitude 7.7 quake in 2013 in Balochistan was the result of oblique-slip faulting along this highly oblique boundary. That earthquake killed at least 800 and caused major damage in the province. Closer to the region was a Mwc 7.1 earthquake in 1997 which struck southeast, killing at least 60 people. That earthquake also had a thrust mechanism but occurred on a blind thrust fault.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake occurred during the rupture of a thrust fault which is part of the fold and thrust belt under the Sulaiman Mountains and Central Brāhui Range. It was followed by a magnitude 4.6 aftershock. It was the largest earthquake in Pakistan since a major tremor in 2013 which occurred nearby. The earthquake was revised from an initial estimation of 5.7 at 20.8 km depth to 5.9 at 9.0 km. The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences placed the earthquake magnitude at Mw 5.8 at 10 km depth with a moment tensor solution indicating thrust faulting.
Striking early in the morning at just after 03:00 local time, the earthquake collapsed many homes where residents were asleep. According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) (PDMA), severe damage was reported in the Harnai District and Shahrag area, where more than 100 mud homes were destroyed. Damage was also reported in the cities of Sibi and Quetta. Provincial Minister Mir Ziaullah Langau said landslides have blocked roads leading to the affected region, disrupting rescue and recovery efforts. The majority of homes in the affected region are constructed of mud and stone, making them more vulnerable to collapse or severe damage from earthquakes. The Deputy Commissioner at Government of Balochistan, Suhail Anwar Hashmi said that most of the fatalities resulted from roof and wall collapses.
At least 26 people died, mostly women and children. An unspecified number of residents were buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings and rescued by survivors. About 300 people were injured, with many hospitals in Balochistan overwhelmed by the influx of patients. Ten injured individuals, mostly men and elders were airlifted to Quetta.
On the afternoon the same day of the disaster, funerals were held for those who had died. The district hospital in Harnai received 15 dead bodies and many severely injured children. Many of the patients were treated outside the hospital building due to overcapacity. Four deaths were coal miners working when their mine collapsed. In another instance, a mother and her two children were killed in their sleep when their home collapsed. Another girl, aged eight, was found lifeless under the wreckage. Six children were among the dead, including a one-year-old infant.
Dozens of coal miners in Balochistan are also reportedly missing, presumably trapped. According to the Deputy Commissioner of Harnai, 15 miners are unaccounted for outside the city. Rescue workers were sent to search for the missing.
Following the quake, troops from the Pakistan Army were dispatched to Harnai to aid in rescue and relief operations. At least nine injured victims in need of medical treatment were transported via helicopters from the affected region to Quetta. The Inter-Services Public Relations, army, medical personnel, response workers, and officials are working together to coordinate the rescue and relief works. A team of search and rescue individuals from Rawalpindi was sent to Harnai to find survivors among the wreckage.
Provincial officials in Balochistan announced that 200,000 Pakistani rupees (approximately 1,170 US dollars) would be compensated to the families of each deceased individual. Sania Nishtar, a Pakistani physician, was to pay a visit to the affected area on instructions by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, where she would meet the victims and provide relief. Relief workers guided by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement were dispatched to the province to provide medical assistance. Residents who were homeless after the quake were housed in tents and provided basic needs. Despite the supplies given, many residents were still complaining that they are insufficient. Officials said that the delivery of supplies are delayed due to landslides and that the areas are not easily accessible.
A relief package of 12,000 Pakistani rupees was approved by the government of Pakistan and is planned to be distributed to each affected family. The package would be distributed to the families Ehsaas Programme. Food trucks arrived in Harnai on October 11, supplying food for survivors. The Pakistan Army and Air Force, together with the district administration distributed tents and food to over 500 individuals. The army also conducted building inspections. Medical tents setup by the army has treated at least 3,000 people.
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- "بلوچستان کے زلزلہ سے متاثرہ ضلع ہرنائی کے ہر خاندان کو 12 ہزار روپے کی امداد دی جائے گی، ڈاکٹر ثانیہ نشتر" [Rs 12,000 will be given to every family in Harnai district affected by Balochistan earthquake: Dr Sania Nishtar]. urdu.app.com.pk. 11 October 2021. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
- "ہرنائی؛زلزلہ سے متاثرہ 500خاندانوں میں ٹینٹ ،آٹا اور ضروری اشیاء خوردنوش تقسیم" [Harnai: Tents, flour and food items distributed to 500 earthquake-affected families]. Associated Press of Pakistan. 11 October 2021. Retrieved 11 October 2021.