Earthquake in Balochistan
September 24, 2013 11:56 PM   Subscribe

An earthquake in Balochistan (also spelled Baluchistan), a mountainous province of Pakistan, has killed many people and reportedly flattened many houses in Awaran, the worst-affected district. The force of the earthquake raised the sea bed near the port of Gwadar, creating a new island. Early estimates of casualties are notoriously inaccurate, but a preliminary report by Max Wyss of WAPMERR suggests there will be several thousand deaths.
posted by Joe in Australia (17 comments total)
My sympathies and condolences to all MeFites affected by this tragedy.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:56 PM on September 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Horrific news if these reports of casualties are true. I hope this gets the news coverage and global support that it deserves.

The new island (apparently yet to be confirmed) is an interesting twist.
posted by greenhornet at 1:14 AM on September 25, 2013

creating a new island.

"According to scientists, the Makran coastal belt is reported to have extensive reserves of frozen methane that exist in the form of gas hydrates (crystalline water-based solids physically resembling ice, formed under conditions of relatively high pressures and low temperatures) hundreds of metres below the sea floor. And whenever this highly pressurised gas finds a weak space to release some of its energy, a dome-like structure (island) is created within the waters or it emerges on the sea surface."

Next the kaboom. The Earth shattering kaboom.
posted by three blind mice at 3:45 AM on September 25, 2013

posted by lalochezia at 5:56 AM on September 25, 2013

posted by sa3z at 6:20 AM on September 25, 2013

The PAGER system predicts somewhere between 1000 and 10000 casualties, based on the population of the areas exposed to heavy shaking. The USGS already has a rupture model up, which has some unusual features -- if you scroll down to the fault-slip cross-section, it looks like the earthquake initiated fairly deep in the crust, but triggered heavy slip close to the surface (from the colour scale, it looks like the fault moved 12 or 13 m, mostly horizontally).
posted by irrelephant at 6:46 AM on September 25, 2013

Wow this is tragic. I am so ignorant about geography I was also super surprised to learn Pakistan isn't landlocked. Are there beaches in Pakistan? Anyway, again, earthquakes are awful.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:54 AM on September 25, 2013

posted by seyirci at 7:00 AM on September 25, 2013

Horrible -- I hope for all the best in rescue efforts.
posted by Anything at 7:19 AM on September 25, 2013

Balochistan has a long history of devastating earthquakes. I own a photo album from the 1930s with pictures of the 1936 Quetta quake.
posted by nonasuch at 7:20 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thinking of the victims, survivors and rescuers and hoping everyone stays safe (well, those for whom it isn't too late. :( )

Some small part of me is like HOLY CRAP NEW ISLAND REALLY? though. Like... what it is made of? Sea floor that buckled upward? If I walked on it, what would it be like?

Also, is it R'lyeh?
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:53 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

And of course the misery is exacerbated by difficulties of access. This needs better coverage to mobilize international aid, and quickly. The fault moved 13 METERS? I cannot begin to grasp the power, and the horror this must have wrought.

When the earth is angry, we're just ants...
posted by kinnakeet at 9:07 AM on September 25, 2013

posted by thegirlwiththehat at 9:51 AM on September 25, 2013

Very, very sad.

But this: Island pops up off Gwadar is incredible, and sounds like something from Night Vale.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:09 AM on September 25, 2013

I've spent some time in Khuzdar, the nearest town (for certain values of 'town') to the epicentre of the earthquake, as well as in Kalat. It's a beautiful place: very rugged and wild. You can see geology here: it's the sort of place where at every turn of the RCD highway the hills turn a different colour.

I visited shortly after a flash flood scoured the hills clean of life. It was virgin earth then: the mud houses had vanished and nothing remained except for some school buildings (these are few and far between of course) which sheltered several families.

I was there as one of the swarm of international aid locusts, but this area is so insecure that it's not easy for the usual circus to show up in town. I was there because I was the comms person with a Pakistani passport and didn't need special permission to travel.

I love the first photo in this article because that's what this part of Balochistan is like. You see the bare, hard surface everywhere you go, and then you step inside the house and it's full of colour and ornament and laughter. Or a woman takes off her veil and you see her jewellery and her tattoos. It's easy to forget how vivid private life is in these areas, where there is such a strong separation between the public and the private space.

It's also the second poorest place I've ever been to and it's been treated very badly over the years. Inner Balochistan is ruled by its sardars and the Pakistan army who, between them, have created the circumstances in which hundreds or thousands are killed directly or indirectly by human or natural disaster, and the rest of the world never finds out. Ordinary Balochis are crushed by immense forces. Earthquakes are only the most sudden, the ones that get media attention and packets of PlumpyNut for a little while.

To the person upthread who asked, yes, Pakistan has beaches and beach parties, though bikini wearing has to be carefully handled. The best beaches are in Balochistan, actually; in more heavily inhabited areas around Karachi the currents are vicious and take many lives every year. Also they are covered in filth.
posted by tavegyl at 11:34 AM on September 25, 2013 [7 favorites]

Here is more information on the aftermath of the earthquake: Dawn Article and Tribune article.

This the portal to the National Disaster Management Agency of Pakistan, and here is how to DONATE to help rehabilitate the earthquake-hit area.
posted by Azaadistani at 12:40 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

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