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More than 300 killed in Pakistan earthquake

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 27th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

At least 327 people have been killed after thousands of mud homes collapsed in the mountainous Awaran district of Baluchistan province in Pakistan. Authorities say earthquake relief efforts have been greatly hindered by the remote area of the quake zone. Hundreds of other people have been injured and uprooted from their homes.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The majority of the damage has occurred in Pakistan's destitute Baluchistan province, where the epicenter of the 7.7 magnitude quake was located. Spread far away from civilization, the mountainous area has prevented authorities from determining the extent of the devastation.

The head of Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority Muhammad Saeed Aleem told journalists that arrangements are being made to send food, tents and blankets to the affected areas. Satellite imagery is also being gathered to assess the damage. Aleem fears the human losses are likely to increase.

"It was a massive earthquake and apparently there are huge losses, but the government will be able to discuss it once satellite images of the area are gathered," Aleem says.

Houses made of mud, in the worst-hit district of Awaran and surrounding areas have been flattened, causing the majority of the deaths. The tremor also disrupted road links, preventing rescue efforts.

United Nations officials say they are standing by to provide support if requested. Pakistan's government is leading the response thus far.

Dan Teng'o, a spokesman of the U.N. office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Pakistan, says it is in contact with the provincial government and has received initial reports of the losses the quake has caused.

"It has indicated that 80 percent of the houses in Awaran district, which is the most affected district, 80 percent houses there have collapsed and it could be more because they have not been able to access some of the remote areas," Teng'o says.

Troops and paramilitary soldiers, as well as military helicopters carrying emergency supplies have arrived in the region to help evacuate the thousands of people injured and made homeless.

The resource-rich, sparsely populated Baluchistan region borders Iran and Afghanistan and has been in the grip of a low-level separatist insurgency for years. Ethnic Baluch insurgents frequently attack government officials and installations.

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