The Pakistani president has led a minute’s silence to mark the first anniversary of an earthquake that killed about 80,000 people, using the ceremony to raise the Kashmir issue.
About 12 hours after the initial earthquake an aftershock of 6.2 magnitude rocked the region, but there were no immediate reports of additional casualties or damage.
Dilawar Khan, chief of the Ziarat district, said that hundreds of mud houses had collapsed in his district, while further damage was reported in neighbouring Pishin district.
Khan said that some houses had been buried in a landslide triggered by the earthquake.
|People fled their homes after the first quake hit Baluchistan province before dawn [AFP]|
“Rescue work is being carried out by the villagers themselves, but a larger operation is needed here,” he said.
Al Jazeera’s cameraman in Ziarat province said that hundreds of people were still trapped in the rubble.
A reporter for Associated Press news agency saw dozens of bodies and injured in a hospital in Kawas in Ziarat district. Mohammed Irfan, a doctor, said the hospital was unable to cope with the injured it was receiving.
Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, having arrived in the provincial capital of Quetta on the first aid flight into the area, said: “The army has now been deployed and aid is being unloaded onto trucks.”
Khan said that locals were scared to stay in their homes because of fears of another shock and many people were trying to leave the area.
“There will be a lot of people still stuck under the rubble and it is getting dark here … which will hamper [relief] efforts, so we may well see the death toll rise,” he said.
Sohail-ur-Rehman, another provincial official, said that authorities were rushing to help about 12,000 homeless people and to bury the dead.
“Graves are being dug with excavators as we can’t keep deadbodies in the open,” he said.
Sanaullah, a resident, told the Associated Press news agency: “When the earthquake occurred, I was sleeping in my building with my children and suddenly I heard a noise and I recognised it was an earthquake.
“I ran to get my children. The window broke and my hand was injured and now I am waiting with my children on the roadside.”
A Pakistani military spokesman said about 250 troops and two helicopters had been sent to Ziarat from Quetta, while an aerial assessment of the damage was also under way.
“The destruction is heavy, people need immediate help and we are providing assistance to the affected people,” Colonel Mohammed Babar said.
Retired Lieutenant General Faruq Ahmed, chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority, said tents, blankets and food had been sent to the area along with medical teams to treat the injured.
The earthquake took place at the shallow depth of 10km and hit about 70km northeast of Quetta, the US Geographical Survey said.
The Pakistani Meteorological Department said that two quakes had struck before dawn, the second of which was larger than the first.
Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder, reporting from the Pakistani capital Islamabad, said: “The first quake struck at 4.35am local time [22:35 GMT on Tuesday] forcing people out onto the streets, and then at about 5.10am the stronger second quake, measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale, is said to have hit.”
Hyder said that Quetta, however, had largely escaped extensive damage.
Quetta was largely destroyed and about 30,000 people were killed in a severe earthquake in 1935.
The region’s worst earthquake was in October 2005 when about 75,000 people were killed, most of them in mountainous northern Pakistan, in a 7.6 magnitude quake.