26 Sep 2013

Pakistan quake toll rises

8:28 pm on 26 September 2013

The death toll following Pakistan's massive quake continues to rise, with at least 328 people dead and hundreds more wounded.

The 7.7-magnitude quake struck on Tuesday afternoon local time at a depth of 20km and was centred north-east of Awaran, the US Geological Survey said. After the quake, an island appeared off the coast near the port of Gwadar.

Many houses were flattened and thousands of people have spent the night in the open, with more than 300,000 people affected over six districts - Awaran, Kech, Gwadar, Panjgur, Chaghi and Khuzdar - Balochistan government spokesman Jan Muhammad Buledi said.

Mr Buledi said the death toll stood at 328 - 160 in Awaran town, 125 in other areas of Awaran district and 43 in Kech, the BBC reported. But it is feared the toll could rise once other areas are reached.

Awaran local government official Abdul Rasheed Baluch said about 90% of houses in the district had been destroyed. About 250 houses collapsed in the village of Dalbedi, and villagers were clawing through debris for possessions, an AFP photographer at the scene said.

"We have lost everything, even our food is now buried under mud and water from underground channels is now undrinkable because of excessive mud in it due to the earthquake," 45-year-old farmer Noor Ahmed told AFP.

Pakistan's army has airlifted hundreds of soldiers to help with the aftermath but officials say survivors urgently need clean water, medical supplies and tents.

National Disaster Management Authority spokesperson Brigadier Mirza Kamran Zia says medical teams are being moved to the area.

Search and rescue teams have also been sent to help the injured and look for those who may be trapped under the rubble.

However, the BBC reports that doctors on the ground are saying they need more help.

Awaran's population is scattered over an area of more than 21,000 square kilometres.