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Earthquake kills at least 20 in Pakistan, injures 300 and destroys hundreds of homes, death toll expected to rise

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Earthquake kills at least 20 in Pakistan, injures 300 and destroys hundreds of homes, death toll expected to rise

A powerful earthquake has rocked southwest Pakistan, claiming at least 20 lives and leaving at least 300 injured in its wake. Hundreds of people, meanwhile, have lost their homes in the quake's destruction.

In the early hours of Thursday, a strong tremor hit near the Harnai district of Balochistan province, measuring at a magnitude of 5.9, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), which revised its earlier reading of 5.7. 

The quake was initially suspected to be 20.8km (12.9 miles) deep, but was later changed to 9km (5.6 miles) by the monitoring group. 

Suhail Anwar Shaheen, the local deputy commissioner, confirmed that at least 20 people had died. Six children were also reported to be among the deceased. Shaheen said the death toll is expected to rise even higher as crews conduct their search missions in the remote, mountainous district. 

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At least four people died when a coal mine they were working in caved in. Many people were buried as they slept, with up to 100 homes collapsing in the night. In the region, the majority of the population lives in mud houses.

Balochistan's chief minister, Jam Kamal Khan Alyani, said evacuation missions were underway and "blood, ambulances, emergency assistance" and helicopters had been dispatched. 

Images uploaded on social media appeared to show Pakistani army personnel carrying the injured onto an aircraft for treatment. 

WARNING, GRAPHIC

The quake also tore down houses within 15km (3.1 miles) of Harnai and impacted government buildings, according to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority chief General Naseer Ahmed Nasir. Tremors were felt in Balochistan's provincial capital, Quetta, as well as in other towns. 

Pakistan, situated on the boundary where Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, is no stranger to earthquakes. In September 2013, a whopping 7.7-magnitude quake hit Balochistan's Awaran area, resulting in around 330 deaths and some 440 injured. 

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