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Pakistan Earthquake: Damage under the surface in Balochistan

Millions in Pakistan are still in need of emergency assistance following the summer 2010 floods. Photo: Jaspreet Kindra/IRIN.Last night's earthquake in Pakistan refocuses attention on conditions in Balochistan. A powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.2 hit southwestern Pakistan last night, a region yet to recover from devastating floods in 2010.

The quake was more than 80 km (50 miles) underground, close to the town of Dalbandin in Balochistan province. Seismologists believe that if the earthquake had happened closer to the surface, the consequences would have been much more severe.

Rescue teams are trying to assess the impact in the large but sparsely populated region. Dalbandin is 55 km from the epicentre and is estimated to have a population of about 15,000.

Six months after the floods in Pakistan, millions of families are still in need of emergency assistance. Children are particularly vulnerable.

In addition, thousands of survivors are still struggling with the psychological trauma of the floods, a problem that is unlikely to have been helped by the earthquake.

Balochistan is facing further serious problems underground: it was reported today that its groundwater table is depleting at a rate of 3m (10 feet) per year. The situation was described as "alarming" and has been caused by overexploitation of the water supplies. The entire province is dependent on groundwater. The Balochistan government is constructing 100 delay-action dams to deal with the problem, with USAID providing a soft loan or grant of Rs 4.647bn ($100m/€76m/£64m).

In addition to being a seismically active region, the geology of the region is not favourable for water retention. It also shares a porous border with several provinces in Southern Afghanistan, including Kandahar and Helmand.

For a comment from Concern Worldwide on the current situation from Balochistan following the earthquake, please contact Eimear Rigby on +353 1 417 7700 or +353 86 3612 984. Concern Worldwide has been working on the ground in Pakistan since 2001, and is currently responding to the severe flooding that hit the country last year.

Click for some of the other Irish and international organisations working in Pakistan , dealing with the aftermath of the 2010 Pakistan floods or both.

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