New Delhi, Feb 10: Nearly 40 geologists have come together to survey the Makran Trench in Balochistan after Beijing showed concerned over the possibility of a massive earthquake affecting the strategic Gwadar port in the volatile province, a media report said on Sunday. Also Read - Chinese President Xi Jinping Replaces 'Asur' in Bengal's Durga Idol; Picture Goes Viral
Gwadar forms part of the important link for the over $50 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) connecting to China’s Xinjiang province through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). It has been more than 70 years since the last big earthquake shook the Makran Trench off the south coast of Pakistan but if and when the next catastrophic one happens, it could disturb more than the landscape. Also Read - India Pushes For Pakistan to Remain on FATF Grey List, Says Pak Continues to be Safe Haven for Terrorists
The trench is the meeting point for two tectonic plates and is close to the Pakistani deep-sea port of Gwadar, where geopolitics, oil and diplomacy intersect. Also Read - Pakistani Money Heist Titled '50 Crore' Triggers Hilarious Meme Fest on Twitter, Fans Call it 'Sasta Version'
The facility has been leased to China for 40 years and any potential disaster in the area could undermine Beijing’s ambitions to revive trade from China through Asia to Africa and Europe.
According to the report, any potential disaster in the area could undermine Beijing’s ambitions to revive trade from China through Asia to Africa and Europe through Gwadar port.
The trench is a seismically active zone in the Arabian Sea where one plate is inching beneath the other in a “subduction zone”. The last major earthquake was of 8.1 magnitude in 1945, which triggered a tsunami that battered what is now the present-day Iran, Pakistan, Oman and India and killed around 4,000 people.
Last year, a 6.3-magnitude quake hit the area. Despite the damage, not much is known about the zone.
Seismologist Yang Hongfeng from the Chinese University of Hong Kong said scientific expeditions in this part of the ocean were quite rare.
The expedition was a joint effort by the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology in Guangzhou and the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO)in Pakistan.
It was funded largely by the Chinese government-funded Chinese Academy of Sciences, said Asif Inam, NIO director general.
The threat of an earthquake is a major concern for both countries.
A senior associate for South Asia at the US-based think tank Wilson Centre, Michael Kugelman, said that the destructive impact that an earthquake or tsunami could have on the operations of the port should not be overstated, given that actual operations were still limited.