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The Chappar Rift in Balochistan, a landmark railway site has clearly been affected by the 1935 earthquake when the mountains opened up in parts.
The gorges and rifts owe much to this earthquake for their appearance.
The 1935 Balochistan Earthquake ( ) occurred on May 31, 1935 at 3:02am at Quetta, Balochistanmarker, Pakistanmarker, then part of British India. The earthquake had a magnitude of 7.7 Mw and anywhere between 30,000 and 60,000 people died from the impact. This ranks as one of the deadliest earthquakes that hit South Asia. The quake was centred 4.0 kilometres South West of Ali Jaanmarker, Balochistan, British India.

The earthquake

Quettamarker and its neighbouring towns lay in the most active seismic region of Pakistan atop the Chamman and Chiltan fault lines. A disturbance in the geological activity resulted in an earthquake early in the morning on 31 May 1935 estimated anywhere between the hours of 2:30 am and 3:40 am which lasted for three minutes with continuous aftershocks. Although there were no instruments good enough to precisely measure the magnitude of the earthquake, modern estimates cite the magnitude as being a minimum of 7.7 Mw and previous estimates of 8.1 Mw are now regarded as an overestimate. The epicentre of the quake was established to be 4-kilometres south-west of the town of Ali Jaanmarker in Balochistan, some 153-kilometres away from Quetta in British India. The earthquake caused destruction in almost all the towns close to Quetta including the city itself and tremors were felt as far as Agramarker, now in Indiamarker. The largest aftershock was later measured at 5.8 Mw occurring on 2 June 1935. This however did not cause any damage in Quetta but the towns of Mastungmarker, Maguchar and Kalat were seriously affected by this aftershock.


Bruce Street immediately after the earthquake lay desolate in ruin.
Commercial businesses came to a halt along with the complete destruction of the Kabari Market and the Fruit Market.
Most of the reported casualties occurred in the city of Quetta. Initial communique drafts issued by the Government estimated a total of 20,000 people buried under the rubble, 10,000 survivors and 4,000 injured. The city was badly damaged and was immediately prepared to be sealed under the military guard with medical advice. All the villages between Quetta and Kalat were destroyed and the British feared casualty to be of higher numbers in surrounding towns; it was later estimated to be no where close to the damage caused in Quetta.

From memorabilia of a member of the Royal Signals in 1935:

"For long-distance military work, we used large rhombic set-ups, with heights of 50 to 75 feet. For amateur work a single-wire horizontal, with the feed at three-sevenths of the total length, was used. As a matter of interest, during the Quetta earthquake of 1935, all civilian radio nets were destroyed, and all traffic was taken over by R.Signals stations. We did over 168 hours of frantic communications from D.I.K. to Quetta; sleeping on the floor next to the equipment."

Infrastructure was severely damaged. The railway area was completely destroyed and all the houses were razed to the ground with the exception of the Government House that stood in ruins. A quarter of the Cantonment area was destroyed but military equipment and the Royal Air Force garrison suffered serious damages. It was reported that only 6 out of the 27 machines worked after the initial seismic activity. A Regimental Journal for the 1st Battalion of the Queen's Royal Regiment based in Quetta issued on November 1935 stated,
It is not possible to describe the state of the city when the battalion first saw it.
It was completely razed to the ground.
Corpses were lying everywhere in the hot sun and every available vehicle in Quetta was being used for the transportation of injured … Companies were given areas in which to clear the dead and injured.
Battalion Headquarters were established at the Residency.
Hardly had we commenced our work than we were called upon to supply a party of fifty men, which were later increased to a hundred, to dig graves in the cemetery.

Rescue efforts

Tremendous losses were incurred on the city in the days following the event. On streets, people lay dead, buried beneath the debris some still alive. British regiments were scattered around town to rescue people, an impossible task as 1st Queen's remember. The weather did not prove to be of much help and the scorching summer heat made matters worse.

Bodies of European and Anglo-Indians were recovered and buried into a British cemetery where soldiers had dug trenches. Padres performed the burial service in haste as soldiers would cover the graves quickly. Others were removed in the same way and taken to a nearby shamshāngāht for their remains to be cremated.

While the soldiers excavated through the debris for a sign of life, the Government issued the Quetta administration with instructions to build a tent city to house the homeless survivors and to provide shelter to their rescuers. A fresh supply of medicated pads was brought forth for the soldiers to wear over their mouths while they dug for bodies in fears of a spread of disease from the dead bodies buried underneath.

Image:1935_Balochistan_earthquake_and_the_initial_medical_help.jpg|Initial medical set ups were established near the railway station to help provide first aid to the survivors. A tent city was built in the vicinity.Image:1935_Balochistan_tent_city.jpg|The tent city was erected to house the thousands of homeless survivors and also the rescue workers.Image:Kabari_Market_in_the_1935_earthquake.jpg|image shows the gates of the ruined Kabari Market when the earthquake struck. Commercial operation were hit badly.Image:Opera_Talkies_destroyed_in_the_earthquake.jpg|Opera Talkies, a cinema set up for the recreation of the soldiers was destroyed in the quake.


The natural disaster ranks as the 23rd most deadly earthquake worldwide to date. In the aftermath of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the Director General for the Meteorological Department at Islamabadmarker, Chaudhry Qamaruzaman cited the earthquake as being amongst the four deadliest earthquakes the South Asian region has seen; the others being the Kashmir earthquake in 2005, Pasnimarker earthquakemarker in 1945 and Kangra earthquakemarker in 1905.


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