Deadly Pakistan earthquake so powerful it creates a new island
Wednesday, September 25, 2013, 6:50 AM -
The magnitude 7.7 earthquake that struck Pakistan on Tuesday may have been powerful enough to create a new island.
Television channels showed images of a stretch of rocky terrain rising above the sea level, near the port of Gwadar, with a crowd of bewildered people gathering on the shore to witness the rare phenomenon.
Gwadar Police Chief Pervez Umrani said the new land mass is about 9 metre high and 100 metre long, visible from the beach.
The Pakistan Meteorological Department's director general, Arif Mahmood, said witnesses reported the island near the port of Gwadar following the quake.
The temblor could have caused the earth under the sea to rise, he said, but officials need to investigate further.
The official death toll following the quake jumped from 39 to over 200 on Wednesday, most of whom were killed before they could rush outside their collapsing houses.
"We all ran out for safety in the open field in front of our house. Many other neighbours were also there. Thank God no one was hurt in our area but the walls of four or five houses collapsed,'' said Khair Mohammed Baluch, who lives in the town of Awaran, roughly 50 km south of the epicenter.
Hundreds of food packages and 1,000 tents were sent to the affected areas along with doctors and paramedics, provincial government spokesman Jan Mohammad Buledi said.
The quake was felt as far away as New Delhi, the Indian capital, but no damage or casualties were immediately reported there, said Jai Chandra, a meteorologist with the India Meteorological Department.
The quake also jolted Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, along the Arabian Sea, roughly 250 km from the epicenter.
People in the city's tall office buildings rushed into the streets following the tremor, and Pakistani television showed images of lights swaying as the earth moved.
"I was working on my computer in the office. Suddenly I felt tremors. My table and computer started shaking. I thought I was feeling dizziness but soon realized they were tremors,'' one Karachi resident, Mohammad Taimur, said.
A security guard at a bank in one of the buildings said he locked the doors after everyone left the office, then rushed into the street.
"At the time I felt the strong shock, I went inside the office to watch the TV. Other people were yelling 'Earthquake! Leave the office!'' said Muhammad Akhtar.
In Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, people also fled their homes and offices in panic.
Matiullah Khan, a cellphone vendor in Quetta, said he was in his shop with a customer when the cabinet and shelves started to shake.
"I along with customers rushed out to the main street ... Thousands of people were standing, many in fear and reciting Quranic verses,'' he said, referring to Islam's holy book.
Baluchistan and neighbouring Iran are prone to earthquakes.
A magnitude 7.8, which was centred just across the border in Iran, killed at least 35 people in Pakistan last April.
In January 2011, a 7.2 magnitude quake damaged 200 mud-brick homes in a remote area of Baluchistan about 320 km southwest of Quetta not far from the Afghan border, but caused no casualties.
In 2005, a magnitude 7.6 earthquake in northern Pakistan, a much more populated area than Baluchistan, killed about 80,000 people and left more than 3 million homeless.