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Earthquake of 4.7 magnitude jolts parts of KP; quake toll hits 400

26 September, 2013

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AWARAN: An earthquake of 4.7 magnitude jolted parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Chitral on Wednesday as desperate villagers in Balochistan clawed through the wreckage of their ruined homes on Wednesday, a day after a huge earthquake struck, killing more than 400 people.

At least 400 people have been confirmed dead and thousands are injured, according to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and the Balochistan government. However, Balochistan Assembly Deputy Speaker Qudus Bizenjo claimed that more than a thousand people have perished in the attack. In the village of Dalbedi, the earthquake flattened some 250 houses. Bewildered villagers dug with their hands through the rubble of their mud houses in Dalbedi to retrieve what was left of their meagre possessions.

Farmer Noor Ahmed, 45, said the strong tremors lasted for two minutes and turned buildings in the village into piles of mud. "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," he told AFP. Jan Muhammad Buledi, spokesman for the Balochistan government, gave the death toll and told AFP it was likely to rise as rescue teams reach more villages in the area, which has been rattled by more than a dozen aftershocks.

More than 300,000 people had been affected by the quake across six districts – Awaran, Kech, Gwadar, Panjgur, Chaghai and Khuzdar – he said. "People are still trapped under the rubble but it is a huge disaster and it will take time to reach and rescue all the people," he said. PDMA official Ahmad Nawaz confirmed the death toll and said the injured numbered 498.

The authorities have prioritised finding the injured and getting them to hospital, but the task is hampered by the area's remoteness and the limited infrastructure. They are also trying to provide tents to shelter the thousands left homeless. "It is difficult to estimate the real magnitude of the losses because the area is very vast with small and scattered villages," said National Disaster Management Authority Chairman Major General Muhammad Saeed Aleem. "We will receive satellite images tonight and then we will be in a position to analyse the magnitude of the losses."

The army has rushed medical staff and troops to the devastated area to help with rescue efforts, along with seven tonnes of food and a tonne of medicine. Some of the injured were being treated in hospitals in Karachi. A man who gave his name as Hassa, from a village in Awaran, more than 250 kilometres away, described the moment the quake hit. "My house swung to one side and then it swung another and then all of it caved in. When I regained my senses I was in Awaran hospital," said Hassa, who was later taken from there to Karachi. "I don't know whether my children and other members of my family are alive or not."

During a press conference in Islamabad, NDMA spokesman Brigadier Kamaran Zia said that the NDMA has placed 5,000 tents at the disposal of Balochistan PDMA from its strategic reserves in Karachi. It has also mobilised its resources to provide 7,000 food packs of 53 kilogrammes each to the affected people in Awaran and Kech. He said that forward operating bases are being established in Khuzdar and Bela for logistical support and provision of essential supplies (food and non-food items).


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