Quetta, Afghanistan Earthquake, May 1935



Quetta, the Capital, Is
Shattered, With 100
Europeans Killed


Military Authorities Act to
Prevent Looting by Wild
Tribesmen Along Border


Kandahar Razed by Tremors
— Shocks in Early Morning
Cause Scenes of Terror

KARACHI, India, Saturday, June
1 — An extensive area along the valley
of Baluchistan, in which the
town of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan
and an important military
and railway centre with 60,000
inhabitants, is located, was devastated
early yesterday morning by
one of the worst earthquakes in
Indian history.
The shattering of communications
made the huge loss of life difficult
to estimate, but some radio messages
from Quetta now put the
death roll in that city alone at between
15,000 and 20,000. The total
of European casualties in the town
is now placed at 100 dead, including
forty-three members of the
British Royal Air Force, and 200
The number of casualties in the
surrounding district has not been
ascertained, but the stricken area
is now known to extend southward
from Quetta for more than 100
[Kandahar, the second largest
city in Afghanistan, which is 125
miles northwest of Quetta, was
reported in ruins with an unknown
number of casualties, according
to an Associated Press
dispatch. It has a population of

Act to Prevent Looting

Effective steps have already been
taken by the military authorities to
prevent looting by wild frontier
tribesmen, which is one of the
menaces stalking hand in hand
with fire, pestilence and famine
throughout a large part of the devastated
The first shock was felt in Quetta
at 3:04 A. M. [about 7:04 P. M.
Thursday, New York daylight-savi
n g time], and others varying in intensity
and lasting thirty to sixty
seconds quickly followed. Crying
"Ram, Ram!" the popular invocation
to the Hindu god Rama, the
terrified native populace rushed
from their tottering houses into the
open and the parks.
The town was crowded with British
officials, students and members
ofhe trading community spending
the customary vacation in the hills
during the hot weather.
Apparently the casualties were
heaviest in the more solidly constructed
buildings and barracks
such as those in which the Royal
Air Force was housed. Hangars
collapsed, burying scores of costly
aircraft beneath tons of tangled
steel and maseonry. Fragmentary
radio messages reaching here from
portable sets of the Air Force units
gave first indications of the disaster.

Upheaval Like Tidal Wave

According to one message, destruction
came like a "tidal wave"
in a land upheaval that swept in a
few moments from Mastung along
the low level of the valley of
Datibdaulta, or the Plain of No
Riches, to Quetta. Four-fifths of
the buildings in both towns are reported
Strangely enough, few casualties
appear to have befallen the large
numbers of British and Indian
troops encamped in open cantonments
on the outskirts of Quetta.
Nevertheless, all civil and military
railways have been demolished over
the entire area and the flying fields
were so damaged that rescuing airmen
were warned by radio not to
attempt a landing anywhere in the
Quetta region.
Kalat, another town in the affected
area, was also severely damaged,
four persons out of five, according
to dispatches here, being
either killed or injured.

June 1, 1935 edition of The New York Times