Earthquake kills 80 in Pakistan, creates new island in sea

An earthquake measuring 7.8 on Richter scale hit Balochistan in southwesten Pakistan on Tuesday, US Geological Survey said.

Zee Media Bureau

Quetta: At least 80 people were killed and about another 80 injured in Pakistan as a strong earthquake measuring 7.8 on Richter scale hit a remote area in Balochistanon on Tuesday, reports said.

The earthquake that struck Awaran district in Balochistan province at 4:29 pm local time also prompted a new island to rise from the sea just off the country`s southern coast.

About 80 injured people, including women and children, were brought to the Civil Hospital in Khuzdar, a spokesman for the Balochistan government said. Reports of deaths had been received from Awaran and Turbat districts, he said.

Hundreds of mud-brick houses collapsed or were damaged in Awaran and Khuzdar areas, officials said.

Six bodies were found in Awaran bazar and four more in far flung villages of the district, said Deputy Commissioner Abdul Rasheed Baloch. "I fear more people are trapped inside collapsed houses," he said.

Houses were damaged and the rooves of at least two schools collapsed in Awaran.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) issued a `Red Alert` in the wake of the temblor, indicating a possibility of 1000 or more deaths.

The earthquake was so powerful that it caused the seabed to rise and create a small, mountain-like island about 600 meters (yards) off Pakistan`s Gwadar coastline in the Arabian Sea.

Television channels showed images of a stretch of rocky terrain rising above the sea level, with a crowd of bewildered people gathering on the shore to witness the rare phenomenon.

Though the quake struck at a mere depth of 22.9 km and 145 miles southeast of Dalbandin in Balochistan, the tremors were felt as far as New Delhi and NCR region in neighbouring India where people were reportedly seen running out on streets as the quake shook buildings.

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Another quake of 5.9 magnitude was reportedly detected near the epicentre just minutes after the first quake that lasted for two minutes, Pakistani media reports said.

The quake was felt in Pakistan`s largest city, Karachi, along the Arabian Sea. People in the city`s tall office buildings rushed into the streets following the tremor, and Pakistani television showed images of lights swaying as the earth moved.

TV footage showed residents in Quetta, the capital of BalOchistan, coming out of their homes and offices in a panic. One man told Pakistan`s Dunya television channel that he was sitting in his office when the building started shaking.

Other residents said people started reciting verses from Islam`s holy book, the Quran, when the quake began.

Balochistan and neighbouring Iran are prone to earthquakes.

A magnitude 7.8, which was centered just across the border in Iran, killed at least 35 people in Pakistan last April.

With Agency Inputs