35 killed as 7.9 magnitude earthquake hits Pakistan
Updated: 2013-04-17 04:44
ISLAMABAD - At least 35 people were killed, over 180 others injured and hundreds of houses collapsed when a strong earthquake of 7.9 magnitude jolted parts of southern and southwest Pakistan on Tuesday, local officials said.
Arif Mahmood, Director General of Pakistan Meteorological Office, said the earthquake hit Pakistan at local time 15:44:21 pm and lasted for about 20 to 25 seconds.
He said that the epicenter of the earthquake was located at a depth of 76 km in Iran's mountainous area of Khash near Pakistan border.
Mashkel village, located in Pakistan's southwest Balochistan province, was badly affected by the earthquake, as at least 34 people were killed and over 150 others injured due to strong tremors.
The injured people were shifted to a nearby hospital where several of them were reportedly in critical conditions.
Local media said that over 1,000 houses of the village and its adjacent areas which are home to over 35,000 people, were collapsed in the earthquake.
Army sources said that the earthquake razed hundreds of houses to ground and several people are feared to be buried under the rubbles.
More details about casualties and the conditions of injured people are awaited as the affected areas are located in a far flung mountainous region, at about 514 km away from the provincial capital of Quetta.
Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the mouthpiece of Pakistan army, said that a wing of paramilitary Frontier Corps is carrying out rescue and relief operation in the Mashkel village, and medical teams, food items, tents and medicine have also been airlifted to the quake-hit areas via Army Helicopters.
The earthquake also jolted the country's southern port city of Karachi, as at least five people were injured when two buildings partially collapsed.
Flight operations were disrupted due to the earthquake and the airport was closed for some time in Karachi.
The earthquake created panic among the public as people rushed out of their houses in fear.
Sania Anees, a resident of Karachi, told Xinhua that she was sitting in her office when the earthquake occurred and she ran out for her life.
"I was working in my office when everything started shaking and someone shouted "run, it's earthquake", I jumped off my chair and ran out of the office's exit door where my other colleagues were running too, some women were crying in fear, others were praying to God for mercy", Sania said.
Elsewhere in Dera Ghazi Khan, a city located in the country's eastern Punjab province, three people were injured and five cattle died in land sliding triggered by earthquake.
In a similar incident, one man was killed due to land sliding in the country's southwest Gawadar port area.
Meanwhile, in Panjgur district of Balochistan, several barracks of Frontier Constabulary (FC) were damaged in the earthquake, the FC spokesperson said, without mentioning any casualties.
Caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso expressed sorrow over the natural disaster and directed concerned officials to quicken the process of rescue and relief operation.
President Asif Ali Zardari also expressed grief over the earthquake in Pakistan and Iran, and sympathized with the affected people. He also directed all concerned officials to work in an organized manner to help the affected people.
Nawab Ghous Bakhs Barozai, caretaker Chief Minister of Balochistan province, called for a high-level meeting in provincial capital of Quetta and charted out plans for the rescue and relief operation for the affected people.
Pakistan is located in one of the most earthquake prone zones of the world. Geographically, Pakistan lies in the collision zone between the India tectonic plate to the south and the Eurasian plate to the north.
Due to its geographical location, Pakistan has faced many serious earthquakes, and the worst one came in 2005 when tremors of 7.6 magnitude killed over 100,000 people and injured 138,000 others.