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Pakistan's 'Zalzala Jazeera' spewing methane gas

September 25, 2013 18:08 IST

Methane gas is emanating from a small island created in the Arabian Sea by the deadly earthquake that hit southwest Pakistan, prompting experts to warn people not to go near it.

The site has fascinated local residents, who have thronged the coastline in Balochistan province to get a glimpse of the new piece of land that emerged from the sea.

The 7.7-magnitude quake that struck Balochistan’s remote Awaran district on Tuesday killed over 260 people and affected 300,000.

The island sprang from the seabed off the coastline near the port of Gwadar, 400 km from the quake's epicentre. The Pakistani media has dubbed it the Zalzala Jazeera or 'quake island'.

Experts from the National Institute of Oceanography, who are evaluating the island, said it was spewing methane gas at several points. There is a visible presence of marine life on the island, they said.

"Our team found bubbles rising from the surface of the island that caught fire when a match was lit and we forbade our team from starting any fires. It is methane gas,” Mohammad Danish, a marine biologist from the National Institute of Oceanography, told Geo News.

The island is 60 to 70 feet above sea level and its land mass measures about 120 metres by 300 metres.

This is the third time in 15 years that such a phenomenon has occurred along the Balochistan coast. Earlier, islands emerged in 1999 and in 2011 at a distance of two kilometers from the Makran coast near the point where the Hingol River drains into the sea.

Both these islands emerged without an earthquake and collapsed in strong currents and winds.

The same area witnessed an island’s emergence in 1945 following an earthquake.

Image: An island that rose from the sea following an earthquake is pictured off Pakistan's Gwadar coastline in the Arabian Sea ' Photograph: Reuters

Snehesh Alex Philip
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