In the last 75 years, three earthquakes of approximately Mb 7.5 or greater have struck Pakistan: Quetta (1935), Makran (1945), and Kashmir (2005), resulting in more than 120,000 casualties (Khan., 2007). The case study of risk assessment and resilience in the aftermath of the 2013 Awaran earthquake in Pakistan is presented in this article.

Overview

Pakistan is a developing country and, facing issues of population density, unplanned development in disaster-prone areas, and poverty. These elements, combined with a lack of disaster preparedness and planning, have increased the risk of life and property across Pakistan. As a consequence, several natural hazards have recently transformed into disasters, causing tremendous damage to human settlements in various parts of the region. The human response to natural disasters has become the topic of extensive research. The scientific understanding of the seismic threat in the Himalayas has progressed (Bilham., 2004). Nonetheless, social dynamics have played a critical role in defining the local population’s vulnerability and resilience to this earthquake catastrophe. These risks have proven to be mankind’s most difficult adversary since they are capable of wreaking havoc on a big scale near human populations. Natural disasters can be distinguished by their extreme scale, frequency, or length. The potential of natural hazards to pose destruction is partly owing to a lack of awareness of how to limit the consequences of these hazards. Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, typhoons, starvation, fires, landslides, and earthquakes are examples of natural hazards and among them, the most dangerous natural hazard is an earthquake, which has the potential to bring large-scale devastation in terms of human loss and infrastructure. Earthquakes are one of the most lethal types of natural disasters due to their unpredictable nature. It is a natural hazard that cannot be controlled, but the risk of economic losses and casualties during an earthquake can be reduced. Disaster preparedness and mitigation prevent a hazard from becoming a disaster by many folds, reducing the effort required for the affected people’s rebuilding and rehabilitation (R&R) after an earthquake. The requirement for R&R also reflects a society’s resilience, the lower the need, the better the resilience, and vice versa.

Case study Awaran earthquake

On September 24, 2013, the Awaran earthquake struck with a magnitude of 7.7 Mw (Mahmood et al., 2015). The epicenter was positioned 61 kilometers N-NE of Awaran and 113 kilometers NW of Bela with 15 Kilometers of depth. The tremors lasted nearly a minute, causing concern in the area. The earthquake resulted in more than 825 casualties and the destruction of the infrastructure. The earthquake was followed by aftershocks with an Mw 6.8 on September 28th, 2013, which caused more damage to an already disaster-stricken area resulting in 22 fatalities. Dandar, Awaran, Gashkore, Tirtej, Nok Jo, Parwar, and Hohab (NDMA, 2013). were among the areas, that were affected severely.

Major historical earthquakes in Southern Pakistan

Location YearMagnitude Casualties
Ali Jaan 19357.830,000– 60,000
Arabian Sea 19458.14000
Quetta 20086.4 170-200
Dalbandin 20117.23
Awaran 20137.7825
Awaran 20136.822

As a result of the earthquake, approximately 33000 houses were destroyed, and 300,000 people were displaced and left homeless (NDMA, 2013). The earthquake was caused by oblique-strike slip motion on one of the southern sides of the Chaman Fault. The tremor was felt throughout Pakistan, as far as Afghanistan, Iran, and India. The majority of the people in this area live in adobe buildings that are extremely vulnerable to earthquake shaking. A small island was formed in the Arabian Sea as a result of this severe earthquake. The Mw 8.1 Makran earthquake of 1945, which caused a massive Tsunami, is the greatest recorded event in the region. Along the Makran coast in the southern section, there is a subduction zone and Chaman fault, which is the major cause of occurrences of earthquakes in the region.

The map heighlighting the District Awaran and the Chaman transform fault system
The major fault lines (Chaman transform fault system) are shown on the map of southern Pakistan.

Risk Assessment

The Awaran earthquake inflicted many casualties and completely damaged 32638 houses. Most of the damaged houses were adobe. There is a red alert level for deaths caused by shaking. There were high fatalities, and the disaster is widespread. Previous events with this level of warning have prompted a national or worldwide response. The Economic losses were on a high alert level. There will likely be significant damage. Economic losses are estimated to be less than 1% of Pakistan’s GDP.
Damage and losses due to the Awaran earthquake (NDMA, 2013)

AreasDeathsInjuredHouses Damaged 
Completely DamagedPartially Damaged
Mashkai136125129616151
Mangoli3620841195
Awaran72176124224792
Malar/Dandar14230768443080
Total3868163263814118

Resilience

In the current literature on disasters, the concept of resilience and its assessment is still relatively new. Community resilience, which includes economic, social, infrastructural, and institutional elements is discussed. The social resilience in this region for educational level and health and house insurance is extremely low. The economic resilience is low in the whole region. The area is barren with the least vegetation. However, the resilience after the earthquake increases because of national and provincial aid. The institutional resilience in the region is very low. The municipal infrastructure including fire services and emergency management services was almost negligible. This has increased the vulnerability of the people to an unprecedented scale. Physical resilience is also at a low level. Most of the houses were made of stone and mud known as adobe, there was a prevalence of heavy roofs, and were vulnerable to earthquakes (Ainuddin & Routray, 2012).
In Pakistan, there is no proper earthquake-related institution. Currently, the Pakistan meteorological department is dealing with earthquakes, which is a burden on the institution and is beyond its capacity. PMD should be solely focused on weather-climate-related problems and flood forecasting. This issue hinders the implementation of earthquake-resilient policies. Before October 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the focus of disaster management authorities was mainly on flooding. In the case of earthquakes, there is no allocation of funds and resources provided for disaster-related research, planning, and preparation. Their policies were mostly focused on relief.

Conclusion

The 2013 Awaran earthquake, which occurred along the Hoshab fault, resulted in a number of deaths and the destruction of infrastructure. It is critical to reevaluate the region’s seismic hazard, develop new building codes and implement better insurance for people. There needs to be the development of a higher community and vulnerability resilience to combat the consequences of hazards on time and prevent it from transforming into a disaster to reduce future loss of lives and infrastructure damage.