A powerful earthquake struck southwestern Pakistan early on the morning of October 29 (5.10 a.m. local time) killing more than 135 people and left 15,000 people homeless. The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude at 6.4 while Pakistan’s Meteorological Department pegged it at 6.5. The epicentre was close to the valley of Ziarat, a major tourist centre in Baluchistan. Many houses in the district collapsed due to landslides caused by the quake and roads were also blocked. The army helicopters had been roped in to rescue the stranded people but many remote places were still unreached. Quakes in this region are caused by the Indian plate pushing north into the Eurasian plate. A 7.6 magnitude quake devastated northern Pakistan and Kashmir in October 2005, while the city of Quetta was almost completely destroyed in 1935. Baluchistan is home to Pakistan’s largest reserves of natural gas.

COMPLIED BY R. KRITHIKA