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60 killed as powerful quake strikes southwestern Pakistan
Publication Date : 25-09-2013
Awaran and several other districts of Balochistan were struck by a massive earthquake of 7.7 magnitude on Tuesday afternoon, leaving at least 60 people dead, bringing down houses and buildings and causing widespread destruction.
The quake rattled vast areas, including Karachi and other cities and towns of Sindh and sending shockwaves up to Swat in the northwest. It triggered panic in Karachi and Hyderabad where people left buildings and homes and went out in the open.
Officials in Quetta warned that the death toll in the affected areas was likely to increase because rescue workers were yet to reach many remote areas and the communications system had been crippled.
Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch declared an emergency in Awaran and five other districts.
Army and Frontier Corps troops were called in to carry out rescue and relief work.
A large number of people were rescued from the debris of houses and the injured were given emergency medical aid by army and Frontier Corps (FC) doctors and paramedics.
“Over 80 per cent mud-houses have collapsed or have been badly damaged in Awaran,” Chief Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad told Dawn, adding that casualties and losses in several remote areas had also been reported but rescue teams had not been able to reach those places till late in the night.
The quake affected several districts of Balochistan, including Quetta, at 4.29pm and continued shaking the areas for about one minute, forcing people to rush out of their homes. Kunri area of Awaran district was the epicentre of the quake. At least four aftershocks of 5.6 magnitude were felt in most areas.
Thousands of houses collapsed or were badly damaged in towns and villages of Awaran.
Home Secretary Asad Gilani said 50 bodies had been retrieved and 150 people had been injured in Awaran.
“The death toll may increase because the earthquake has caused massive destruction in Awaran and adjoining districts and rescue teams are yet to reach several remote areas from where reports of heavy losses are being received,” he said.
Balochistan Assembly’s Deputy Speaker Mir Abdul Quddoos Bezinjo, elected from the Awaran constituency, claimed that the death toll was higher than so far announced by officials.
According to sources, at least 11 people, including a woman and a girl, were killed in Kech district and over 20 houses collapsed in Dandar village of Hoshab teshil and near Turbat.
According to local people, a leader of the Balochistan National Party-M, Munir Ahmed Mirwani, died in Awaran.
The phone and road links between several areas and the rest of the country were severed, adding to the difficulties of the rescue teams.
Awaran Deputy Commissioner Rashid Baloch said almost all houses and shops in the town and nearby villages had been destroyed or damaged. He said at least 19 people had died in the town, while reports of losses from remote areas were yet to be received.
“We have launched a rescue and relief operation in the affected areas in collaboration with the army and Frontier Corps,” the official said.
He said immediate supply of tents, food and medicines was needed for thousands of people rendered homeless.
FC sources said a Levies camp in Awaran had also been destroyed.
Local people said no building in the town, including those of hospitals, schools and government buildings, remained intact.
“There is no proper place for providing shelter to the affected people,” local journalist Shabir Rakhsani said, adding that a large number of women and children were
out in the open, waiting for help. He said that the local administration had provided some tents but they were not adequate because thousands of homeless people needed shelter.
The FC said its teams were carrying out rescue and relief work in Awaran Bazaar, Bedi, Labach, Pirandar, Terteej, Jhaol, Mashkay and other areas of the district.
Addressing a press conference in Quetta, government spokesman Mir Jan Mohammad Badini said Kech, Gwadar and Khuzdar districts had also been affected but Awaran was the worst hit.
Provincial Finance Secretary Dostain Jamaldini said the governments of Iran and Turkey had offered to send relief for the affected people.
He said the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and governments of Punjab and Sindh had also offered help.
“On an offer made by the Sindh chief secretary, we have asked him to send two truckloads of medicines to areas of Awaran adjacent to Sindh,” he said.
The Pakistan Army has dispatched two helicopters with food packets, medicines and other relief goods.
An official said the PDMA had sent 13 trucks with relief goods, including 500 packets of food and 700 tents, to Awaran.
Mir Jan Buledi said a large number of injured people had been taken to the Khuzdar Civil Hospital and teams of doctors and paramedics had been sent to the affected areas from Lasbela and other districts.
According to AFP, the quake was felt as far away as in New Delhi and Dubai and its epicentre was 15km below ground.
In Karachi, office workers rushed out of their buildings and squatted or stood on the footpaths away from the structures.