Pakistan earthquake: Hundreds dead in Baluchistan following quake so strong it created new island

Doctors, food and tents sent in as collapsed walls of mud brick houses leave residents homeless

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The Independent Online

327 people have been killed and thousands left homeless following a massive earthquake in southwestern Pakistan.

The magnitude 7.7 quake struck in the remote district of Awaran in Pakistan's Baluchistan province yesterday afternoon, with tremors so strong that they created a new island in the sea.

The quake was felt as far away as New Delhi, the Indian capital located some 740 miles away, but no damage or injuries were immediately reported there.

Provincial official Zahid bin Maqsood put the death toll at 210 and said 375 people had been injured, while a spokesman for the provincial government, Jan Mohammad Bulaidi, put the death toll at 216. The conflicting figures are likely to be due to the difficulty in making contact with people in the remote region.

Most of the victims were killed when their houses collapsed.

The Pakistani military said it was rushing troops and helicopters to Awaran district and the nearby area of Khuzdar. Local officials said they were sending doctors, food and 1,000 tents for people who had nowhere to sleep as strong aftershocks continued to shake the region.

Survivors walk among the rubble in Awaran

Baluchistan is Pakistan's largest province but also the least populated and most impoverished. Awaran district has about 300,000 residents, with most believed to be employed in the smuggling of fuel from Iran, while others harvest dates.

The area where the quake struck is at the centre of an insurgency that Baluch separatists have been waging against the Pakistani government for years. The separatists regularly attack Pakistani troops and symbols of the state, such as infrastructure projects.

Baluchistan and neighboring Iran are prone to earthquakes. A magnitude 7.8 quake centered just across the border in Iran killed at least 35 people in Pakistan last April.

Additional reporting AP