Earthquake, Aftershock Hits Near Quetta, Pakistan

An earthquake of 6.5 magnitude struck major parts of Balochistan, Pakistan including the provincial capital Quetta at 5.09 this morning. Several sizeable aftershocks have followed.

Reports on damage vary, with the BBC noting an estimated 160 dead.

Two CRS rapid assessment teams have been deployed and more information is expected tomorrow.

Coordination is taking place with the UN in Quetta, Caritas Pakistan, and a CRS rep is being sent to the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum for coordination at the capital level.

CRS staff in the Quetta office in the field are safe and accounted for.

CRS Pakistan has deployed key emergency field staff to the earthquake-affected areas. They will assess the level of destruction and determine the role that CRS can assume for humanitarian assistance.

In Quetta year-round, CRS supports education and vocational training programs for Afghan refugee women. Since 1951, CRS has provided emergency and long-term development programs in Pakistan. Today those programs include the strengthening and building of education, agriculture, livelihoods and water engineering in some of the most isolated, impoverished areas of the country.

In its head office in Islamabad and field offices in Muzaffarabad, Menserha, Bisham and Quetta, CRS employs 229 staff, more than 90 percent of whom are Pakistani. CRS has responded to some of country’s largest natural disasters in recent memory, including the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir and the 2007 Cyclone Yemin in Balochistan.

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