Survivors of the earthquake walk on rubble from a collapsed
house in the town of Awaran. REUTERS/Sallah Jan
The death toll from a powerful earthquake in southwest
Pakistan has risen to 327 after hundreds of mud houses
collapsed on residents throughout the remote and thinly
populated area, local officials said.
Pakistan's army airlifted hundreds of soldiers to help with
the aftermath of the worst earthquake in the South Asian
country since 2005, when about 75,000 people were killed in
the country's north.
The earthquake of magnitude 7.7 struck Baluchistan, a huge
earthquake-prone province of deserts and rugged mountains,
and was felt across South Asia.
It destroyed houses and cut communications with the worst
affected district of Awaran, and was so powerful it caused a
small island to emerge from the Arabian Sea, just off the
"Two hundred and eighty-five bodies have so far been
recovered in the Awaran district," Abdul Rasheed Gogazai, the
deputy commissioner of Awaran, the worst affected town, with
a population of about 200,000, told Reuters.
"And 42 bodies were found in the neighbouring Kech district.
We have started to bury the dead."
The spokesman of the government's National Disaster
Management Authority (NDMA), Kamran Zia, put the death toll
at 259 by early Wednesday evening.
Rescue teams found it hard to reach the remote location
quickly, and some officials said the death toll was likely to
rise as emergency workers fanned further into the mountains
to assess the damage.
Mohammad Shabir, a journalist, described scenes of grief and
chaos in villages, saying survivors were digging rows of
graves and picking through the debris.
"As far as the human eye can see, all the houses here have
been flattened," he told Reuters from Awaran, adding that
rescue teams were distributing supplies.
The earthquake struck Pakistan at a time when the country was
still mourning the deaths of more than 80 Christians in a
suicide bomb attack on an Anglican church in the city of
Peshawar on Sunday.
To the south, on the beach near Gwadar port, crowds of
bewildered residents gathered to witness the rare phenomenon
of an island that the quake thrust up out of the sea.
The island would not survive long because sea waves would
eventually break it down, the NDMA spokesman said. "This is
not a permanent structure, just a body of mud," he added. "It
will disappear over time."