September 25, 2013 – Death Toll in Pakistani Quake Rises Past 200: The death toll from a powerful earthquake that struck a remote area of western Pakistan rose to more than 200 people Wednesday as hundreds of soldiers were dispatched to the region to help in the rescue efforts. Pictured above, people affected by the earthquake sat on the rubble of their destroyed homes in Balochistan Province on Wednesday.
The authorities declared a state of emergency in southwestern Baluchistan Province, where the earthquake struck Tuesday afternoon. It had a magnitude of 7.7, according to the United States Geological Survey.
Initial rescue efforts were focused on the Khuzdar and Awaran districts in the west of the province, where most of the fatalities were thought to have occurred after hundreds of mud-walled homes collapsed. A spokesman for Baluchistan Province put the death toll at 238.
The army deployed 200 soldiers for rescue and relief efforts, a Pakistani military spokesman said. The logistics will probably be challenging: Baluchistan is Pakistan’s largest province, and the most sparsely populated.
The earthquake was felt across Pakistan when it struck at 4:29 p.m. Residents rushed into the streets as tall buildings swayed in Karachi, the country’s most densely populated city.
While the earthquake resulted in the loss of lives and property, it also gave rise to an unusual occurrence. A small, rocky island was apparently created in the Arabian Sea half a mile off Gwadar, a port that Pakistan built with the help of China, local news media reported.
Moazam Jah, a senior police officer in Gwadar, told the private news network Geo TV that the island appeared to be 100 feet wide and 40 feet in altitude. Locals were reported as saying a similar island was pushed up around 60 years ago but sank back into the waters over time.
Baluchistan Province is frequently hit by earthquakes and wracked by both drought and flooding, but many of its deepest challenges are man-made. The Pakistani military and intelligence services have waged a campaign to crush a nationalist insurgency there for years, much of the Afghan Taliban leadership shelters there, and the province’s large Shiite minority has frequently faced lethal attacks by sectarian militant groups. (Credits – The New York Times, the USGS &q the Munir Noor/European Pressphoto Agency).
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