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Another powerful 7.2-magnitude quake hits Awaran, 22 killed

29 September, 2013

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AWARAN: A powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit Balochistan on Saturday, killing at least 22 people and injuring 50 in a region already devastated by a tremor which left more than 500 people dead this week, local officials said.

Officials fear the death toll in Saturday's quake in Awaran could rise. The new quake struck the remote district at a depth of 14 kilometres at 12:34 pm, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). Although USGS said it was an aftershock of Tuesday's 7.7-magnitude quake, an official at the National Seismic Centre of Pakistan classified it as a new earthquake. "It was not an aftershock, it was an independent earthquake," Zahid Rafi, director of the National Seismic Centre of Pakistan, told a private news channel.

Awaran District was shattered by the 7.7-magnitude quake on Tuesday which left over 500 dead and more than 100,000 people homeless. "This new earthquake destroyed all that remains of the first quake, two villages were destroyed completely," Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Malik said. Officials said villagers were digging through the newly created debris and that seven wounded people have been taken to a makeshift hospital in Mashkey area of Awaran.

Mashkey Assistant Commissioner Mir Naseer Mosiani told that the new quake destroyed the settlements of Gajjar, Nok Jo, Jibri, Rind Goth, Shadozai and their adjoining localities. "At least 22 people were killed and 50 injured and the death toll may rise," he said. Mosiani also said that the new earthquake was terrifying as it caused some mountains to explode and sink. There were reports of land split in many areas, causing some settlements to sink.

Pakistan's chief meteorologist Arif Mehmood told a private news channel that the magnitude of Saturday's quake was measured 7.2. Awaran Deputy Commissioner Abdul Rasheed Baloch said that the quake destroyed hundreds of mud houses in the Mashkey, adding that "a lot of people have been trapped under the rubble".

"The telephone system has been damaged and we are not able to talk to someone and find out the exact information about the losses... But we have reports of severe losses in that area," Baloch said.

As well as being remote, the area is a stronghold of Baloch separatist rebels waging a decade-long insurgency against the state. The situation has forced officials to abandon efforts to reach survivors directly, saying instead they will work through village committees and private NGOs. Chef Minister Abdul Malik told AFP that food and other rescue items would be distributed through local villagers. He appealed to the local separatist groups to allow rescue officials to reach the survivors. "It is a humanitarian tragedy and I appeal them to allow rescue workers to help the survivors," Malik told AFP late Friday.

Meanwhile, Manan Baloch, a leader of the Balochistan National Movement, allied to the Balochistan Liberation Front, told AFP that his group will only allow private NGOs and local officials to help survivors. "We will not allow army or FC (Frontier Corps) here, only NGOs or local officials are allowed to come here," he said. A Pakistan Army officer in Awaran told AFP the military only wanted to help locals. "They are not ready to accept us," he said on condition of anonymity.


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