This film is part of Free

Quetta Earthquake, May 31st 1935

Amateur footage of the devastation caused by one of South Asia's worst earthquakes

Amateur film 1935 10 mins Silent


At 3.40 am on 31 May 1935 the city of Quetta and the surrounding countryside were devastated by an earthquake. It’s estimated that up to 70,000 people died - comparable with the 2005 Pakistan earthquake - though no accurate figures exist. The city was hit by a further major quake two days later. This amateur film records the aftermath. Located in north-western Balochistan province, near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, Quetta was part of India until 1947.

A government communiqué after the earthquake stated: “The whole city of Quetta is destroyed and being sealed under military guard from 2nd June with medical advice. It is estimated that 20,000 corpses remain buried under the debris. There is no hope of rescuing any more persons alive. The corpses extracted and buried number several thousand. There are about 10,000 Indian survivors, including 4,000 injured”. The journal of the Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment, who were based in Quetta, advised: “It is not possible to describe the state of the city when the battalion first saw it. It was completely razed to the ground. Corpses were lying everywhere in the hot sun and every available vehicle in Quetta was being used for the transportation of injured”.