Video Still via YouTube
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck a rural area of southern Pakistan yesterday in a disaster that has claimed over 270 lives, left hundreds injured and many more homeless. As the province of Baluchistan comes to terms with the horrific events, one unusual effect of the earthquake is garnering a lot of attention: as the quake rocked the region, it carried enough force to cause a new island to emerge from the Arabian Sea.
Residents of Gwadar witnessed the mysterious 20-30 foot-high, 100-foot-wide rocky mass appear around 650 yards from the coastline on Tuesday morning, and while crowds gathered at the scene in “bewilderment,” claiming it to be “nothing short of a miracle,”—the birth of something new amid a scene of destruction—older members of the community have reportedly seen it all before.
NBC reports that “an earthquake in 1968 produced an island that stayed for one year and then vanished,” and there are numerous similar accounts over the last century, all a result of the same strange natural phenomenon as created this latest island. According to seismologists, such occurrences are not the result of the earth being “pushed up” by a tremblor, but rather it is the result of a “mud volcano,” which causes mud, sand and water to gush from seabed to surface as a quake shakes the earth.
The province of Baluchistan in Pakistan, which borders on Iran, is particularly prone to earthquakes. With a sizable rural, impoverished population living in mud houses, this most recent quake has caused some 30 percent of the homes in the central Awaran district to cave in, according to Abdul Qadoos, deputy speaker of the Baluchistan assembly.
300 members of the Pakistani military have been deployed to the area, with more than 700 expected to join them in the coming days, in an effort to provide aid to those injured or stranded in rural areas. In addition to disparate rural communities, the mountainous region is also home to several nomadic tribes.