The death toll from a huge earthquake in southwest Pakistan this week has soared to around 350 people with more than 500 injured, officials said Thursday, among fears the toll could still rise.
The 7.7-magnitude quake hit on Tuesday afternoon in Baluchistan province's remote Awaran district -- a dirt-poor expanse of land that is roughly the size of Wales.
Besides flattening homes and affecting more than 300,000 people in six districts, according to the Baluchistan government, the earthquake also created a new island off the coast.
"At least 348 people have been confirmed dead and 513 others injured," Abdul Latif Kakar, the head of Baluchistan's Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), told AFP.
People rush out their apartments and offices after they felt a major earthquake that struck Baluchistan province in southwest Pakistan, 693 Kilometers (430 miles) from Karachi, Pakistan, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013. A deadly earthquake struck Tuesday in southwestern Pakistan sending poeople fleeing into the streets and praying for their lives as buildings swayed, officials said. (AP)
"Only in Awaran district, we have confirmed the death of 305 people, while we have received information about 43 dead from the other worst affected district, Kech," he said.
National disaster agency officials and local authorities confirmed the toll.
The army has rushed medical staff and troops to the devastated area to help with rescue efforts, along with seven tonnes of food and a tonne of medicine. Six helicopters are taking part in rescue work, the military said.
Video clip uploaded on YouTube by Pakistani channel Geo Tez shows the island that appeared after the powerful earthquake, which struck the country on Tuesday afternoon.
The scale of the territory involved is daunting. Baluchistan, Pakistan's least developed province, makes up about 45 percent of the country's total area, and Awaran's population is scattered over more than 21,000 square kilometres (8,000 square miles).
On top of the difficult terrain, the area is rife with separatist and Islamist militants as well as bandits.
Tremors were felt on Tuesday as far away as New Delhi and even Dubai in the Gulf, while people in the Indian city of Ahmedabad, near the border with Pakistan, ran into the streets in panic.
Pakistani office workers speak on their mobile phones on the street after an earthquake in Karachi on September 24, 2013. A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit southwestern Pakistan on, the US Geological Survey said, with tremors felt as far away as the Indian capital New Delhi. The area of the epicentre is sparsely populated, but the USGS issued a red alert for the quake, warning that heavy casualties were likely, based on past data. (AFP)