Scores dead in Pakistan earthquake

A powerful earthquake of 7.7 magnitude has killed at least 208 people in a remote area of south-west Pakistan, local officials say.

It struck at 16:29 (11:29 GMT) at a depth of 20km (13 miles), 66km north-east of Awaran in Balochistan province, the US Geological Survey said.

It was felt as far away as Karachi, Hyderabad, and India’s capital, Delhi.

After the quake, a small island appeared off the coast near the port of Gwadar, witnesses reported.

People gathered on the beach to see the new island, which is about 9m (30ft) high and 100m long, Gwadar Police Chief Pervez Umrani said.

Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest but least populated province.

The province is prone to earthquakes, with at least 35 people killed in a 7.8-magnitude tremor that was centred in south-eastern Iran in April.

Mud houses

Balochistan government spokesman Jan Buledi put the death toll at 208 and warned it could rise. At least 340 people have been injured.

Awaran local government official Abdul Rasheed Baluch said: “We have been busy in rescue efforts for the whole night and fear we will recover more dead bodies from under the rubble during daylight.

“Around 90% of houses in the district have been destroyed. Almost all the mud houses have collapsed.”

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Many of the casualties are said to be from Labach, on the northern outskirts of Awaran town.

Houses are also reported to have caved in in the district of Khuzdar.

Officials in the regional capital, Quetta, said some areas may have suffered serious damage but the remoteness made early assessment impossible.

People in the region mostly live in mud houses as opposed to multi-storey concrete structures, says the BBC’s Shahzeb Jillani.

The few concrete buildings in the area mostly house government offices, he adds.

An emergency has been declared in the earthquake-affected districts of Awaran and Chagai.

Provincial disaster management officials say tents and medical supplies have been sent from Quetta and neighbouring district headquarters.

More than 200 soldiers have also been despatched for rescue efforts.

Pakistan’s chief meteorologist Mohammad Riaz told reporters it was a major earthquake that could cause extensive damage.

“But it would depend on how dense the population is in the area around the epicentre,” he said.

Light tremors were also said to have been felt in Karachi and Hyderabad, with reports of people rushing out of office buildings.