Around 20 people were killed and
more than 200 injured when a shallow earthquake hit southern Pakistan in the
early hours of Thursday as people slept, government officials said.
Many of the victims died when roofs and walls collapsed after the 5.7
magnitude quake struck in the Balochistan province, with a power cut forcing
health workers to treat the injured using flashlights.
The worst-affected area was the remote mountainous city of Harnai, where a
lack of paved roads, electricity and mobile phone coverage hampered rescuers.
"We are receiving information that 20 people have been killed due to the
earthquake," Balochistan home minister Mir Zia ullah Langau added.
A woman and six children were among 20 dead, Suhail Anwar Hashmi, a senior
provincial government official, told AFP, adding that "more than 200 people
have been injured".
"We are soon sending helicopters to the area to help support the rescue
operation and to evacuate injured," Hashmi said.
Naseer Nasar, the head of Balochistan's Provincial Disaster Management
Authority, warned that the toll may rise.
The quake caused electricity to fail in the region, with health staff
working until dawn without lights in a poorly equipped government hospital.
Before daybreak, "we were operating without electricity with the help of
torches and mobile flashlights," Zahoor Tarin, a senior official at the
government-run Harnai hospital told AFP.
"Most of the injured came with fractured limbs. Dozens of people were sent
back after first aid," he said, adding that "at least 40 people were received
with critical injuries".
"We have imposed an emergency in the hospital and are providing them
Private individuals were helping rush the injured to hospitals.
The US Geological Survey said the quake had a magnitude of 5.7 and struck
around 3 am at a depth of around 20 kilometres (12 miles).
The earthquake was also felt in Balochistan's capital Quetta.
Pakistan straddles the boundary where the Indian and Eurasian tectonic
plates meet, making the country susceptible to earthquakes.
In October 2015, a 7.5-magnitude quake in Pakistan and Afghanistan killed
almost 400 people across rugged terrain that impeded relief efforts.
The country was also hit by a 7.6-magnitude quake on October 8, 2005, that
killed more than 73,000 people and left about 3.5 million homeless, mainly in