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Hundreds feared dead in Iran after earthquake near border with Pakistan

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 16th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

An Iranian official says that hundreds of people may be dead after an earthquake near the border with Pakistan. The quake rocked tall buildings as far away as India's capital New Delhi and forced people to evacuate shaking structures in Qatar and Dubai.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - At least 13 people have been killed in neighboring Pakistan. Hundreds of houses have been destroyed, and buildings shook as far away as India and Gulf Arab.

Communications to the area, chiefly desert and mountain regions with sparse populations were largely cut. As expected, there are conflicting reports as to the casualties in Iran. An Iranian provincial governor had reported that there were no deaths there. The epicenter was reportedly far away from any of Iran's nuclear facilities.

Pakistani officials said at least eight people were killed and 20 injured in the town of Mashkeel in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan. Several hundred houses in Mashkeel had collapsed.

Three women and two children were reported killed when their mud house collapsed in the Baluchistan district of Panjgur.

"The earthquake has killed at least five people in Panjgur," Ali Imran, an official at the government disaster-response unit in Quetta, Baluchistan's main city reported.

For the time being, Iran appears to have emerged relatively unscathed. Experts said the depth was the likely reason for the relatively low level of damage from a 7.8 magnitude quake.

An Iranian official shortly after the quake had told Reuters he expected hundreds of dead and state media quoted unconfirmed reports of 40 fatalities in Iran.

In direct contradiction, Hatam Narouyi, governor of Sistan and Iran's Baluchistan province said that "Fortunately, the earthquake resulted in no fatalities."

People in the Iranian city of Zahedan poured into the streets when it struck.

Iranian Red Crescent official Morteza Moradipour said emergency crews, including dog teams to sniff through the debris for any buried survivors, had reached the area.

"Because of the strength of the earthquake we had expected to see significant damage in residential areas but the quake was at a depth of 95 km and therefore the extent of the damage was on par with earthquakes measuring magnitude 4," he said.

It was the second big quake to hit Iran in a week. On April 9, a powerful 6.3 magnitude quake struck close to Iran's only nuclear power station, killing 37 people, injuring 850 and devastating two villages.

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