(AP) — A powerful earthquake collapsed at least one coal mine and dozens of mud houses in southwest Pakistan early Thursday, killing at least 23 people as the death toll continued to creep higher.
At least another 200 people were injured, an official said.
The death tally was expected to rise even further as crews searched in the remote mountainous area, said Suhail Anwar Shaheen, the local deputy commissioner.
At least four people were killed when the coal mine in which they were working collapsed, said Shaheen, citing coal miners in the area.
As many as 100 homes also collapsed, burying sleeping residents inside.
In one case, a mother died along with her two young sons when their home collapsed, said Wali Muhammad, a relative.
Nearby, the body of an 8-year old girl was found beneath the rubble of her home.
The epicentre of the 5.9 magnitude quake was about nine miles north-northeast of Harnai in Baluchistan province, according to the US Geological Survey.
The initial measurement of the quake’s strength was 5.7 magnitude.
It struck about 5.5 miles below the Earth’s surface; shallower quakes tend to cause more damage.
The area, about 60 miles from Quetta, the provincial capital, is dotted with coal mines, which has Shaheen worried the death toll could rise.
It struck in the early morning while scores of miners were already at work, he said.
Pakistan’s military was deployed to the earthquake area to airlift dozens of injured from mountain peaks.
At least nine critically injured people were taken to the provincial hospital in Quetta. Search and rescue teams have arrived in the mountains, an army statement said.
Concern has grown about scores of coal miners who might be trapped.
Homes lay in heaps of mud and straw.