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Pakistan: Balochistan Earthquake - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA), DREF Operation n° MDRPK021

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A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

An earthquake struck Pakistan's province of Balochistan near the city of Harnai on Thursday, 7 October 2021 with a magnitude of 5.9, striking early in the morning around 03:02 local time when people were sleeping in their homes. According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA-Balochistan), severe damages were reported in the Harnai District, and minor damages in the cities of Sibi and Quetta. Landslides have blocked roads leading to the affected region, disrupting rescue and recovery efforts while most of the homes in the affected region are constructed by mud and stone. There is a sustained risk of the complete demolition in case of further aftershocks making them more vulnerable to collapse. The consecutive after-shocks have sustained the traumatic situation in affected areas; the risks of sudden fall of damaged houses have forced the population to stay under the open sky at night. According to the district authorities, most fatalities resulted from roof and wall collapses. The secondary data reported human and livestock loss, injuries, severe damages to houses, and damage to communication channels, roads and bridges. The earthquake killed at least 21 people and injured more than 300. Most of the damage appear to have affected the Harnai district. More than 200 to 300 mud houses have collapsed, and a large number of buildings were damaged, leaving hundreds of people homeless according to media reports. Harnai, which is located east of Quetta, has a large number of coal mines which could collapse during quakes.

Harnai is a remote district located some 168 km from Baluchistan capital of Quetta. The district has two Tehsils, namely Shahrag and Harnai. According to the 2017 census, Harnai has a population of 97,017. The earthquake badly affected Union councils of Saddar 1, Saddar 2, Naqas, Sharaq and Badyaan. Due to remoteness of the area, authorities were facing hurdles in initial response as some roads had been blocked due to landslides. Despite challenges, the government had provided assistance to affected population. Initial response from the government included:

  • The government has distributed non-food items including 200 tents, appointed 100 schools as shelters for those with fully damaged houses, 2500 blankets, 100 sleeping bags, 155 quilts and 3000 hygiene kits.

  • The federal government under the Ehsaas Programme has announced provision of PKR 12,000 for each family in the affected Union Councils of District Harnai.

  • The Provincial Disaster Management Authority has also dispatched relief goods, tents, blankets, and food items to the affected people.

  • A medical emergency has been declared at the Civil Hospital Quetta where doctors and other paramedical staff have been recalled on an emergency basis.

  • PDMA has sent heavy machinery and rescue teams to the affected areas from Quetta to pick up the debris and clear the area.

  • A number of critically injured people were air-evacuated to the provincial capital Quetta by the Pakistan army through helicopters.

  • Military doctors and paramedics have reached the earthquake-hit areas to assist with relief efforts.

On 15 October 2021, PDMA has declared emergency in district Harnai as natural calamity area due to the earthquake.