Balochistan Earthquake of 1935

The town of Quetta saw most of the fatalities, and this earthquake has since been known as the Quetta Earthquake.

The civil lines was completely destroyed and up to 15,000 people are thought to have perished here alone. The police lines, the darbar hall, the civil and mission hospitals and the club were ruined. A few reinforced concrete structures and the new railway quarters escaped with minor damage. The cantonment suffered much less damage, but a few buildings did collapse. That too was confined to a kilometre wide stretch that lay along the civil lines and the Durani Nullah, one of two watercourses that ran through the town. The fort was also damaged and many buildings collapsed. In the Royal Airforce lines, the hangers at the airfield were all that were left standing though they were badly damaged. Every aircraft was rendered unsafe to fly. Piped water was not disrupted in Quetta and power supply carried on with a restricted load. Up to 26,000 people are believed to have been killed in Quetta alone and a few thousand bodies were left buried in the ruins.

Quetta 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 Jaan 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 Agra, now in India. 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 Mastung, Maguchar and Kalat were seriously affected by this aftershock.