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Wednesday Sep 25, 2013

Death toll rises to 328 in Balochistan earthquake

QUETTA: The death toll in Balochistan from the powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck southwest Pakistan has risen to 328.

Officials said the tremors demolished hundreds of mud houses and it was feared that the death toll would increase.

Balochistan government spokesman Jan Muhammaed Buledi while speaking to Geo News confirmed the death of 30 people in Kech district of the province. Buledi said that all six districts of Balochistan were hit by the earthquake, which included Turbat, Awaran, Panjgor, Chagi, Khuzdar and Gwadar, while of them Awaran witnessed widespread devastation, where in Tehsil Mashkay alone 55 persons died. The bodies of twenty madrassa students were also recovered from the district.

The provincial government has declared emergency. Rescue work is underway and the Frontier Corps and the Army are providing aid to the victims.

District Administration and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority are also doing its utmost to provide relief to the suffering people in the area.

"We are seriously lacking medical facilities and there is no space to treat injured people in the local hospitals. We are trying to shift seriously injured people to Karachi through helicopters and others to the neighbouring districts," Buledi said.

Locals in Awaran said officials including the Chief Secretary only visited the area via helicopter and left. There is a dire need of clean water, food and shelter.

The scale of the territory involved is daunting. Awaran district has an estimated population of around 300,000, scattered over an area of more than 21,000 square kilometres (8,000 square miles).

Tremors were also felt in Quetta, Hub, Khuzdar, Qalat, Sibi, Mastung, Jafferabad, Gawadar, Turbat, Panjgor, Kharan, Jhal Magsi, Noshki and the adjoining areas. However, except Turbat, no loss of life reported in these areas.

Several areas in Sindh including Karachi was also hit by tremors, but its duration being brief, no damage was done.

Rescue Efforts

According to an ISPR presses release, rescue and relief operations continue in the earthquake affected areas of Balochistan by Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps troops.

So far 174 wounded persons have been evacuated from different areas of Awaran to District hospital Awaran by Army/Frontier Corps troops. 7,000 kilograms of food items, 1,000 kilograms medicine and 200 tents have been distributed among the earthquake affectees. Cooked food is also being provided to homeless people in Awaran.

Field Medical facility comprising 21 Doctors and 50 paramedics are providing medical treatment to those injured in Khuzdar and Awaran.

300 troops of Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps personnel were moved Tuesday night for rescue operations in earthquake affected areas and the strength has now risen to more than 1000.

Six Pakistan Army helicopters are also participating in rescue operations. So far 10 sorties have been flown to affected areas of Awaran and Khuzdar.

Gwadar Island

Following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake which truck southwest Pakistan on Tuesday and island had emerged of the Gwadar coastline.

Experts from the National Institute of Oceanography are evaluating the island and say that it is spewing methane gas which can be seen are various points and there is a visible presence of marine life on the island.

The island is 60-70 feet above sea level and its land mass stretches 100-120 metres by 250-300 metres.