Pakistan: Strong earthquake hits south-west

Pictures show the inside of GEO television's newsroom in Karachi as the earthquake hit

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A strong earthquake measuring 7.2 has hit south-western Pakistan, in a desert area bordering Iran and Afghanistan, the US Geological Survey says.

The quake struck at 0123 on Wednesday (2023 GMT on Tuesday), some 55 km (34 miles) west of Dalbandin in Pakistan, at a depth of 84km (52 miles).

It was located several hundred kilometres from the Pakistani city of Quetta and the city of Zahedan, Iran.

Officials in nearby towns indicated that damage was not extensive.

The 7.6-magnitude Kashmir earthquake of October 2005 killed 73,000 people.

In its initial reports the US Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake happened at a depth of just 10km (6.2 miles).

Earthquakes at such a shallow depth have the potential to cause major destruction and loss of life.

However, a later bulletin from the USGS revised the depth of the quake to 84km, potentially limiting the effects.

Map

However, reports said the quake was felt across Pakistan and as far away as Delhi, India, and the Gulf emirates of Dubai and Qatar.

An automatically generated USGS estimate suggested that 109,000 people in the region around the epicentre could be exposed to "very strong" shaking and "moderate/heavy" structural damage, but none to "severe" shaking or "heavy damage".

Farrukh from Karachi e-mailed the BBC with his account of how the quake shook his ninth-floor home.

"I suddenly felt my head spinning and within a few seconds I realised that a strong earthquake had hit us.

"It was as if you multiplied the effect on the ground to perhaps two or three times. My whole family were woken up with fear and the children started screaming. It was quite shocking and fearful and I prayed for Allah to help us," he said.

Frequent quakes

The area hit by the recent earthquake is sparsely populated and is located in a seismically active zone.

The nearest town, Dalbandin, 55km east of the epicentre, is thought to have a population of about 15,000 people.

Much of the area is so remote that the Chagai hills area of Balochistan was used as a site for the country's nuclear test in 1998.

However, major population centres are relatively close to the quake's epicentre.

The Iranian city of Zahedan, some 310km (195 miles) west of the quake, is home to some 570,000 people.

The historic Iranian city of Bam, west of Zahedan, was devastated by an earthquake in 2003.

In Pakistan, the Balochistan provincial capital of Quetta is also home to 560,000 people.

Balochistan is a focus of some militant activity, sharing a long and porous border with conflict zones in southern Afghanistan.

Pakistan is still dealing with the aftermath of devastating floods in the 2010 monsoon season, as well as battling Taliban militants in several tribal areas.

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