Quetta: Thousands of people are homeless and desperate for aid in southwestern Pakistan following a deadly earthquake centered in neighbouring Iran that toppled scores of homes and killed at least 36 people, officials said Wednesday.
The Pakistani army has deployed several hundred soldiers to help the relief effort in Mashkel, the area of Baluchistan province hit hardest by yesterday`s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. But many residents in Mashkel, where nearly all homes were destroyed, said they were unhappy with the official response.
"I appeal to the government. I appeal to the international community to help us with food, medicine, tents and blankets," Syed Mureed Shah, one of the top officials in surrounding Washak district, said by telephone.
At least 35 people were killed and 150 injured in Pakistan, according to Pakistan`s National Disaster Management Authority. Iran`s main state TV channel said today that only one person was killed in Iran - a woman who was struck by falling rocks while she was collecting herbs - and that 12 people were injured.
Iran`s state-run Press TV initially reported a much higher death toll in Iran, saying 40 people had been killed, but later backed away from that figure.
An estimated 700 houses were reported damaged in Mashkel in Pakistan, and more remote areas were being assessed, the disaster management agency said.
But Shah, the Washuk district official, said the damage was more widespread. He said more than 3,000 homes were destroyed in the district, leaving about 19,000 people without shelter. He complained that he has only received about 60 tents from the provincial government.
More than 300 Pakistani soldiers, including doctors and engineers, were helping with the relief effort by distributing food, medicine and blankets, the army said. They also set up a field hospital to provide medical aid. Five army helicopters were participating in the operation, the army said.
The provision of additional supplies was hampered today by a sandstorm that prevented helicopters from landing in Mashkel, the agency said.
The Balochistan government also dispatched 20 trucks carrying tents, lamps, food and water that are expected to reach Mashkel tomorrow morning.