QUETTA, Pakistan: A powerful earthquake in Iran on Tuesday hit hundreds of homes in Pakistan, killing more than 30 people in a remote community close to the desert border, officials said.
The quake damaged mud houses in the town of Mashkail in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, state broadcaster PTV reported.
Two military helicopters carrying medical teams have been sent to the area, which lies just a few kilometres from the frontier, while paramiltary troops were being moved to supplement the relief efforts.
“At least 34 people have been killed and 80 others wounded in Mashkail,” a local government official told AFP.
“The bodies are at the hospital and injured are being treated by army doctors. Paramilitary forces are busy in rescue work.”
Tremors cracked government buildings in the area and PTV said President Asif Ali Zardari had expressed grief over the losses in Iran and Pakistan.
Iran’s Seismological Centre said that the 7.5-magnitude quake struck at 3:14 pm (1044 GMT) in the country’s southeast, close to the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan. The website of the US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 7.8.
Local hospital official Ashraf Baloch told AFP by telephone from Mashkail that several hundred houses had been damaged.
“The Washuk has been destroyed and also hundreds of houses have been damaged in surrounding villages,” Baloch told AFP.
Mehdi Zare, an official at the Seismological Centre, told state television that the earthquake was unprecedented in 56 years.
In December 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake killed 31,000 people in Iran’s southern city of Bam and destroyed its ancient, mud-built citadel.
Tuesday’s earthquake was felt across large parts of Pakistan including Islamabad, where buildings shook, and the largest city Karachi where tremors prompted many to flee buildings in terror.
There were no reports of significant damage to infrastructure.
Pakistan’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity, one of Pakistan’s biggest charities but on a UN terror blacklist as an alleged front for terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, announced on Twitter that its teams were already in place.
“Rescue and Aid Teams have reached Kharan and Panjgour while relief efforts are underway now in these districts,” it wrote on its official account.
Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the head of JuD and the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, also tweeted in English: “Our thought, prayers go out to the victims of earthquake in Iran affected areas in Pakistan. Our Rescue & aid Teams have reached at site.”
Pakistan was hit by a 7.6-magnitude earthquake on October 8, 2005, that killed more than 73,000 people and left about 3.5 million homeless, mainly in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and parts of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.