strong quake hits near Quetta

Quetta: A powerful 5.9 extent earthquake shook parts of south-western Pakistan on Thursday, killing at the minimum 20 people.

Disaster Management Authority Director General Naseer Nasir said the earthquake hit in the early hours of Thursday while people were sleeping. Rescue workers said the dead were mostly women and children.

The initial measurement of the quake’s strength was 5.7 extent.

Suhail Anwar Shaheen, the deputy commissioner of the area, said at the minimum 200 people had been hurt and he expected the death toll to rise as officials search by the far away mountainous area. The injured toll later rose to 300.

at the minimum four of the dead were killed when the coal mine in which they were working collapsed, Shaheen said, citing reports from coal miners in the area.

An injured boy receives treatment at a hospital in Harnai, Pakistan, following the harsh earthquake in the early hours of Thursday.Credit:AP

The quake was centred about 14 kilometres north-northeast of Harnai in Baluchistan province, according to the US Geological Survey. It hit about 20 kilometres below the surface – shallow earthquakes tend to be more damaging than deeper ones.

The location is about 100 kilometres from Quetta, the provincial capital that is near the Afghan border.

A Quetta family gathers outside the house following a harsh earthquake that hit an area about 100km from the city on Thursday.Credit:AP

The capital is dotted with coal mines. The quake hit in the early morning, local time, while scores of miners were already at work, Shaheen said.

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