MENAFN - Khaleej Times
Death toll from Pakistan earthquake rises to 208, tremors felt in UAE
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The death toll from a powerful earthquake in southwestern Pakistan rose to at least 208 people on Wednesday after hundreds of houses collapsed in a remote mountainous area, a local official said.
"We have started to bury the dead," said Abdul Rasheed Gogazai, the deputy commissioner of Awaran, the most affected district in Baluchistan province. He said at least 373 people were wounded.
Met officials said that the magnitude of the earthquake was 7.7 while US Geological Survey put the magnitude at 7.8. The epicentre of the earthquake was in Khuzadar, a city in the Balochistan province, at a depth of 15km, the USGS said.
The earthquake was felt in many cities across the two provinces, including Karachi and Hyderabad, but most of the damage was reported in the Awaran district of Balochistan.
UAE residents in high-rise buildings also felt the quake. Staff at some offices in the Jumirah Lake Towers, Dubai Media City and Tecom areas reported that their buildings shook slightly shortly after 3.30pm.
"It was not as bad as last time"but everybody on our floor really felt it," a staff on the 18th floor of a building in Tecom said. Some people also took to Twitter to report the tremor. Rakan S Alhamad tweeted: #Earthquake in #Dubai is happening right now! We felt it in JLT. Another Twitter user Captain Penfold referred to the quake as a "small wibbly-wobbly tremor".
Mohammed Mahmoud Mashroom, director of the Survey Department in the Dubai Municipality, which operates a local seismic network, said the quake could have been felt by a few people who live on tall buildings in Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Dubai as mild shaking. He said the intensity of the tremor here would be as little as two or three degree on the Mercalli Seismic Intensity Scale which does not cause any damage and is not generally felt by all.
In Pakistan, Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch imposed emergency in Awaran, where provincial government and rescue officials said dozens of mud houses had collapsed, and that the casualties may rise further.
Military as well as civilian officials were busy in rescue efforts but the pace was slow due to the remoteness of the affected areas, officials said.
Major-General Asim Saleem Bajwa, Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations, said 300 soldiers were busy in rescue efforts.
"(The) strength will grow to 1000 by late morning. 40 deaths being reported from area," he said on his Twitter account.
"Khuzdar will be the base for rescue effort. Night flying helicopters with medics on their way. CMH Khuzdar alerted," he said in an earlier tweet.
No loss of life or property was reported from other cities, though Chief Meteorologist Muhammad Riaz said the "earthquake was major" and that destruction was likely.
Officials, however, said losses would be limited because of the sparsely populates areas. Baluchistan is Pakistan's biggest province in terms of area but smallest in terms of population and also the poorest.
This is the second time this year that a heavy quake has jolted Pakistan. In April this year, more than 40 people were killed and thousands of people affected in the Baluchistan province in a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. The effects of that quake were also felt as far as Karachi, just like on Tuesday.
In the country's commercial capital of Karachi, people were forced to evacuate building and stand on roads after the quake struck, but no damages were reported.
Hundreds of people could be seen standing on the I. I. Chundrigar Road, the city's main business hub which houses the main offices of banks as well as many media groups, as people rushed out of their buildings to avoid damages.
"I felt as if someone pulled my chair, but when I looked around, I realised that my colleagues have also felt the jolts," said banker Rizwan Akhtar, as he stood outside his office with dozens of others.
Most of the offices, especially the high rise buildings, were evacuated as a pre-emptive major in case of any aftershocks.
The worst earthquake in Pakistan was in October 2005, when more than 73,000 people were killed and millions of people left homeless in a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that affected the Pakistani side of Kashmir and many cities of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The quake was probably the worst natural disaster to hit Pakistan and also ranks amongst the worst anywhere in the world.
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