Pakistan Earthquake: Death Toll Passes 200

At least 200 people are reported to have died so far after quake hits impoverished Balochistan province.

Ari Soffer ,

Survivors pick through the rubble in earthqua
Survivors pick through the rubble in earthqua

The powerful earthquake which struck yesterday in south-western Pakistan has claimed more than 200 lives, according to sources.

The 7.7-magnitude quake hit the Awaran district of Pakistan's impoverished Balochistan province Tuesday afternoon, at a depth of 20km.

Homes and businesses have been reduced to rubble as survivors begin the task of burying the dead. The latest figures state that 208 people have been confirmed dead, but many more are missing and the death toll is expected to continue to rise

Abdul Rasheed Baluch, a top local official, said that 90% of homes in the stricken area had been destroyed. Many of them were simple mud huts not designed to withstand anything like the massive tremors which struck yesterday.

"We have been busy in rescue efforts for the whole night and fear we will recover more dead bodies from under the rubble during the daylight," he said.

A state of emergency has been declared in the stricken districts of Awaran and Chagai.

The earthquake was so strong that it led to the creation of a small new island 600 meters off the Pakistani coast, near the port of Gwadar. 

Balochistan province is home to Pakistan's minority Baloch ethnicity, who have long complained of discrimination at the hands of the Pakistani government and whose traditional homeland, Balochistan, has been occupied by Pakistan and Iran since 1948.