Well, we had another earthquake here on Tuesday. It’s the second earthquake to affect Pakistan since I’ve come here. Luckily for me, much like the last earthquake to affect Pakistan in April of this year, I didn’t feel any of the shocks or aftershocks.
I didn’t even know that there had been an earthquake until my mum called me from the UAE and asked me about it. She’d seen the breaking news on the television there and called up to see if everything was okay. I decided to call up my brother and a few other relatives who were out at the time of the quake, but apparently the shocks either knocked out the mobile service, or the sheer load of people calling their loved ones to see if they were okay meant I couldn’t get in touch with anyone. After a little while, though, I managed to get through to them using the house phone. None of my family felt any of the shocks, except for my brother who was at work and felt his office building sway a little bit. They were promptly evacuated, so no harm done there.
News of the effects of this quake is slowly starting to filter though. Awaran is a pretty remote part ofthe country, so getting information to and from there takes some time. According to the latest estimates, the death toll has crossed 300 – a number I am certain will grow as the days go on.
The earthquake was apparently so strong that a new island emerged off the coast of southern Balochistan, near the town of Gwadar, close to the epicenter of the quake. I’ve heard some unconfirmed news that the island has been named ‘Zalzala Jazeera’ which is the Urdu word for ‘Earthquake Island’. The island might be a mud volcano and it is not likely to be a permanent geographical land mass, according to Ali Rashid Tabriz, the head of Pakistan’s National Institute of Oceanography. Tabriz explained that Zalzala Island was created by an emission of methane gas on the seabed. “Such islands have appeared in the past… but they sink back, and this new island will not stay there for long.”
If you want some more information about the earthquake and the resulting emergence of Zalzala Island, I highly recommend reading this article posted on the website of the Sydney Morning Herald. It includes a conversation with an American geophysicist, John Bellini, who does a very good job at explaining the earthquake.