Despair as families sift through rubble from deadly Balochistan earthquake
HARNESS: A young man with a jet black beard crouches in grief beside his baby’s body, swaddled in a blanket, while his other children watch in shock.
âI tried to get my children out, but the shaking was so strong,â said Rafiullah, a farmer in Pakistan’s mountainous Harnai district. AFP.
The roof of his mud house collapsed and knocked Rafiullah unconscious when the 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan on Thursday morning.
âWhen I regained consciousness, I took out two of my sons,â he said.
But her youngest son, only about a year old, had been hit by a wooden beam, and “was already dead.”
At least 20 people, including six children, were killed in the earthquake that struck shortly after 3:00 a.m. (10:00 p.m. GMT Wednesday).
It has been felt in at least six towns and villages, but the remote Harnai district has been the hardest hit, with landslides triggered by the quake blocking some roads and hampering rescue efforts in the area.
Images released by the Balochistan Levies law enforcement showed men clearing fallen stones from a blocked road, with only the headlights of cars parked nearby to make their way through the darkness.
“Shout for help”
âIt was a strong earthquake. The shaking was very powerful,â Zaman Shah said. AFP in HarnaÃ¯.
âAs we were running for our lives some people fell,â he said.
“Our homes have been damaged and lives have been lost as well.”
Provincial authorities said dozens if not hundreds of people were injured, while hundreds of mud brick houses were damaged.
At daybreak, the people of Harnai searched the yellow-brown rubble that once made up their homes.
Some desperately tore bricks and rocks with their bare hands, while a man struggled to pry a door flattened out over the debris.
Children with smeared faces and bandaged heads sat in stunned silence on stretchers, as ambulances howled and army helicopters roared above their heads.
They were evacuating the most wounded from remote areas to Quetta, the nearest large town.
When the shallow earthquake shook the ground in Gharibabad village in Harnai district, “everyone rushed to save their lives,” said Rahamatullah, a 27-year-old villager. AFP.
âWomen and children were crying for help.
He said no one in his family was injured, but they were terrified to see large cracks in the walls.
When a second tremor rocked the area about two hours after the first earthquake, “no one dared to enter their house,” he said.
“The people stayed out of their homes for the rest of the night.”