Quetta, Oct. 7 (BNA) A strong earthquake destroyed at least one coal mine and several dilapidated mud houses in southwest Pakistan early Thursday morning, killing at least 20 people and injuring more than 200, an official said. .
The death toll is expected to rise further as crews search the remote mountainous region, Sohail Anwar Shaheen, the local deputy commissioner, said the Associated Press reported.
Quoting coal miners in the area, Shaheen said that at least four of the dead were killed when the coal mine they were working in collapsed. As many as 100 homes also collapsed, burying the sleeping residents inside.
According to the US Geological Survey, the epicenter of the 5.9-magnitude quake was 14 km northeast of Harnai in Balochistan province. The initial measurement of the earthquake’s strength was 5.7. It struck about 20 kilometers (12 miles) below the Earth’s surface. Surface earthquakes tend to cause more damage.
The area, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the provincial capital Quetta, is full of coal mines, which Shaheen worries about the high death toll. He said the explosion occurred in the early morning while dozens of miners were already working.
Most of the area’s residents live in sun-drenched mud houses, many of which have collapsed. Rescue efforts are underway, but Shaheen said it will only take hours to reach many of the hardest-hit areas.
Local TV channels showed citizens wrapped in blankets sitting on the side of the road waiting for the aftershocks to calm down and help them reach.
The area is remote and autumn night temperatures are really cool.