The death toll in the devastating earthquake that struck havoc in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province rose to 217 on Wednesday, amid fears that it is likely to go up.
Many of the far-flung areas in Balochistan are yet to be reached by rescue teams because of the terrain and lack of proper roads.
Home Secretary Asad Gilani said Tuesday’s 7.7-magnitude earthquake had claimed the lives of 208 people and injured 350 others in Awaran district, news paper quoted him as saying.
Deaths of seven more people were reported from Turbat city in Kech district of Balochistan.
Gilani that the long distance and disrupted road routes were causing obstacles to the relief efforts.
Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Malik Baloch on Tuesday declared an emergency in Awaran and five other districts.
Over 300 Army and Frontier Corps troops are already involved in rescue operations and military sources said further troops have been mobilised to the affected areas.
A large number of people were rescued from the debris of houses and the injured were given emergency medical aid by army and FC doctors and paramedics.
Locals in Awaran district said no building in the town, including those of hospitals, schools and government buildings, remained intact.
The government of Balochistan has dispatched 1000 tents, 500 food bags, medicines, 15 ambulances towards Awaran, said Jan Buledi, the spokesman for Balochistan government.
Addressing a press conference, Buledi said the earthquake affected six districts in the province and that Awaran was the worst affected district where hundreds of mud-walled houses were demolished as result of the powerful earthquake.
The quake was so strong that it prompted a new ‘island’ to rise from the sea just off Pakistan’s southern coast.
The earthquake caused the seabed to rise and create a small, mountain-like island about 600 meters off Gwadar coastline in the Arabian Sea.
A large number of people had gathered near the coast to witness the emergence of the island. “The island popped up soon after the earthquake. Our staff stationed in Gwadar has reported that the island is about one and a half kilometres away from the coastline,” said Dr. Asif Inam, the Principal Scientific Officer of the National Institute of Oceanography.
It’s the third time in 15 years that such a phenomenon has occurred along the Balochistan coast.