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    Pakistan quake kills 170, more deaths feared: officials

    HotNewsTurkey with wires
    29.10.2008 - 09:33 | Son Güncelleme:

    A powerful earthquake struck southwest Pakistan before dawn on Wednesday, killing at least 170 people, destroying mud homes and sending survivors screaming into the streets in panic. Turkey said it was ready to provide assistance to Pakistani people. (UPDATED)

    At least eight villages were badly hit by the 6.4-magnitude quake, local police and officials said, warning the death toll could rise as rescue workers reached villages in the remote mountainous region bordering Afghanistan, AFP reported.

    Dilawar Kakar, the mayor of the historic hill town of Ziarat, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the city of Quetta, told AFP the death toll had risen to 170, while about 400 people in the area were injured.

    Virtually all houses were hit either in the initial quake or by repeated aftershocks, one of which the US Geological Survey measured at a magnitude of 6.2. Schools and hospitals were also damaged, he added.

    "The relief work continued until late evening and we have recovered almost all victims from the rubble. Debris have been removed and we believe there may not be more people trapped there," he said.

    "We have buried around 130 people in the affected villages while other bodies have been sent to their native towns."

    Earlier Khushal Khan, spokesman for the revenue minister of Baluchistan province, Zamarak Khan, said local people had told him about 6,000 people have been made homeless and in one case, 29 members of the same family died.

    President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani both expressed their condolences to relatives of those killed and injured, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan said.

    Neighbor and rival India quickly offered any help that might be required.

    The first official government figures from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) put the death toll at 115 so far, with nearly 300 injured, its chairman, retired Lieutenant General Farooq Ahmed, told a news conference.

    In Quetta, witnesses said people fled screaming from their homes when the quake hit shortly after 5:00 am (2300 GMT Tuesday)

    In the village of Wam, near Ziarat, survivors later began burying their dead in line with Islamic tradition. At least 75 bodies were removed from the rubble, a local charity, Edhi, said.

    Mohammad Naeem, 28, told AFP: "My brother Abdus Salam, who was a truck driver, returned to the village last night from duty and went asleep in his room.

    "However, the roof of the room collapsed in the quake killing Salam and his wife. We recovered bodies of both Salam and his wife and buried them in the afternoon."

    Others desperately dug among the rubble of demolished houses in the hope of finding loved ones alive or their bodies, an AFP correspondent witnessed.

    Buildings collapsed in Ziarat and communications were cut while the main road to Quetta was also hit, with wide cracks in places and bouldent from Quetta to Ziarat and an aerial assessment of the damage has started, the Pakistani military said.

    The NDMA’s Ahmed said the situation was under control and there was no need for external aid.

    But Ziarat’s mayor said the 3,000 tents sent so far were not enough.

    "We have asked the government to send at least 10,000 tents as the temperature in the mountainous town is sub-zero and people need shelter during the night," he added.

    There were no immediate reports of casualties or structural damage in Afghanistan, police there said.

    Turkish President Abdullah Gul expressed condolences to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday over the powerful earthquake that hit the country.

    Gul also said in his letter of condolence that Turkish nation was ready to provide assistance to Pakistani people to ease their pain.

    Two experts had already been dispatched to southwest Pakistan where the earthquake struck before dawn about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the city of Quetta, the Turkish Red Crescent Society said in a statement.

    "All the preparations are ready in order to rush any materials to the region that could be needed by those affected," it said.

    The Turkish Red Crescent still has staff in Pakistan as a result of operations to help victims of the October 2005 quake which killed 74,000 people and displaced 3.5 million in the north of the country.

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