A major 7.2 magnitude earthquake that shook the southwestern parts of Pakistan in the early hours of Wednesday, January 19, 2011, also caused tremors in neighboring countries in Asia
According to the reports, the earthquake occurred at 1:23 a.m. at a depth of 84 kilometers and was centered at 45 kilometers west of Dalbandin, a town in Baluchistan province, which is the country’s most sparsely populated area around 15,000 people.
Meanwhile, initial reports said that there are no casualties and major damages after the incident. However, police officials said that several mud houses were damaged in an area outside the town called Mashkil. In Quetta, the largest city and the provincial capital of Balochistan, likewise report no casualties and major damages, but the quake caused widespread panic in the city.
The areas which felt severe jolts included Karachi, Bahawalpur, Thatta, Sukkar, Shikarpur, Badin, Larkana, Mirpur Khas, Khairpur, Noshehro Feroz, Nawabshah, Hyderabad, Quetta, Naseerabad, Kharan, Lahore, Sargodha, and Dera Ghazi Khan.
According to the reports, a female cardiac patient suffered a fatal heart attack during the earthquake, while two residents immediately raced to the hospital because of fright. In an interview with the residents, one said that the event has caused a major scare among them, saying that the quake lasted for about 20 seconds. People said that the scare was brought by the terror left by the 1935 and 2008 earthquakes, which resulted in a great deal of damage to the city and significant loss of life of about 75,000 people.
An official at Edhi Foundation, said there were no reports of any damage.
“I was sleeping when the quake struck and I felt like my bed was shaking. I got up and ran to check the children…and thankfully they were all okay,” said Masooma Rizvi, a housewife. “It was very scary. I have never felt anything like this before.”
The Pacific Tsunami Center said the onshore quake had not triggered a tsunami in the Indian Ocean.
A major quake of this magnitude is capable of causing widespread and heavy damage.
On the other hand, reports said that the shake radiated in neighboring areas like Punjab, Sindh and other Balochistan provinces in Pakistan. The earthquake also caused tremors to neighboring countries like United Arab Emirates and India. Reports said that the shake was felt in Dubai, which is about 500 miles southwest of the epicenter, and lasted for about 30 seconds.
A director of the Pakistan Meteorological Department said that there is a possibility that a major aftershock may occur later in the day.
Xavier Patras William is an international journalist and human rights activist. He is the Regional Director of “Life for All” in Islamabad, Pakistan, an organization is working for human rights and the education of the Christians in Pakistan. The head office of “Life for All” is in Lahore, Pakistan and its regional office is located in Islamabad. Xavier can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org