A major earthquake collapsed at least one coal mine and many poor mud houses in southwest Pakistan early Thursday, killing at least 20 people and injuring more than 200, an official said.
The death toll is expected to rise as crews raided the remote mountainous area, said Suhail Anwar Shaheen, the local deputy commissioner.
At least four of the dead were killed when the coal mine they worked in collapsed, Shaheen said, citing miners in the area. Up to 100 houses also collapsed and buried sleeping residents.
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According to the US Geological Survey, the epicenter of the magnitude 5.9 quake was about 14 kilometers northeast of Harnai in the province of Baluchistan. The initial measurement of the magnitude of the quake was 5.7 magnitudes. It hit about 20 kilometers below the surface of the earth; shallower quakes tend to do more damage.
The area, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Quetta, the provincial capital, is littered with coal mines, which Shaheen fears the death toll could rise. It struck early in the morning when dozens of miners were already at work, he said.
Most of the area’s population lives in sun-burned mud houses, many of which have collapsed. Rescue operations were underway, but Shaheen said it would take hours just to reach many of the hardest hit areas.
Local TV channels showed residents wrapped in blankets sitting on the side of the road waiting for the aftershocks to subside and help arrive.
The area is remote and the autumn night temperatures are already cool.