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Pakistan earthquake island emitting flammable gas

02 October 2013

A new island that emerged off the coast of Pakistan following a devastating earthquake has been releasing flammable gas and killing sea life in the area. Dead fish have been spotted floating on the surface of the waters surrounding the island and visitors have heard hissing noises from the escaping gas. 

The island was created following 7.8 magnitude quake struck 145 miles southeast of Dalbandin in Pakistan's quake-prone province of Baluchistan, which borders Iran, on September 24.

The earthquake was so powerful that it caused the seabed to rise and create a small, mountain-like island about 600 meters off Pakistan's Gwadar coastline in the Arabian Sea.

Bahram Baloch, a local journalist told the BBC how residents could hear sounds of gas escaping.

A Pakistani Navy team reached the island by midday Wednesday, navy geologist Mohammed Danish told the country's Geo Television. He said the mass was about 60 feet (18 meters) high, 100 feet (30 meters) long and 250 feet (76 meters) wide.

'There are stones and mud,' he said, warning residents not to try to visit the island. 'Gasses are still emitting.'

Zahid Rafi, principal seismologist for Pakistan’s National Seismic Monitoring Center, said such masses are sometimes created by the movement of gases locked in the earth under the sea, pushing mud and earth up to the surface in something akin to a mud volcano.

This liquefaction of sand layers takes place after any earthquake, but these sudden islands are usually only spotted after strong earthquakes, at least 7- or 8-magnitude events.

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