Pakistan hit by 7.8-magnitude quake, killing 45 and forming mountain-like island in Arabian Sea
A major earthquake hit a remote part of south-west Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least 45 people and prompting a new island to reportedly rise from the sea just off the country's southern coast.
The United States Geological Survey said the 7.8 magnitude quake struck 233 kilometres southeast of Dalbandin in Pakistan's quake-prone province of Baluchistan, which borders Iran.
The province in southwest Pakistan is the country's largest but also the least populated.
The earthquake sent workers fleeing into the streets and praying for their lives as buildings swayed, officials said.
The earthquake was so powerful that it caused the seabed to rise and create a small, mountain-like island about 600 metres off Pakistan's Gwadar coastline in the Arabian Sea, local media reported.
Television channels showed images of a stretch of rocky terrain rising above the sea level, with a crowd of bewildered people gathering on the shore to witness the rare phenomenon.
John Bellini, a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Centre, said the 7.8-magnitude earthquake was capable of causing widespread damage.
‘‘We have heard some reports of damage as well as casualties, although we would expect the numbers to go higher based on the size and location of the earthquake,’’ he said.
He said the type of faulting that caused the Pakistan earthquake was an oblique strike thrust - meaning the motion was side to side, rather than up and down.
He said that would not normally result in land being thrust upwards, however there had been reports of islands similar to the one reported off the coast of Pakistan appearing in the past.
‘‘The US Geological Survey hasn’t had any direct observations of the island itself, so we don’t know the specifics, other than what we’ve seen on the internet,’’ he said.
‘‘However historically there have been islands very similar to this that have occurred off the coast of Pakistan and Iran, and much of it seems to be related to mud volcano activity. We don’t know if this one specifically is related to mud volcano activity, but it has occurred off the coast in this region in the past.’’
Officials said scores of mud houses were destroyed by aftershocks in the thinly populated mountainous area near the quake epicenter in Baluchistan, a huge barren province of deserts and rugged mountains.
Abdul Qadoos Bizenjo, deputy speaker of the Baluchistan assembly, told Reuters that at least 30 per cent of houses in the impoverished Awaran district had caved in.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald