At least 39 killed in Pakistan earthquake

State of emergency declared in Baluchistan province after 7.7 magnitude quake

An earthquake killed at least 39 people when it struck a remote area of western Pakistan this afternoon, according to Pakistani government officials who have warned that the death toll will probably increase.

The authorities declared a state of emergency in southwestern Baluchistan province, where the earthquake struck.

It had a magnitude of 7.7, according to the US Geological Survey.

Initial rescue efforts were focused on Khuzdar and Awaran districts in the west of the province, where most of the fatalities were thought to have occurred after hundreds of mud-walled homes collapsed.

A Pakistani military spokesman said the army had deployed 200 soldiers for immediate rescue and relief efforts.

The logistics will probably be challenging: Baluchistan is Pakistan’s largest province but also the most sparsely populated, with sprawling deserts and little infrastructure. The earthquake was felt across Pakistan when it struck at 4.29pm local time.

Residents rushed into the streets as tall buildings swayed in Karachi, the country’s most densely populated city.

Baluchistan province is frequently hit by earthquakes and wracked by both drought and flooding, but many of its deepest challenges are man-made.

The Pakistani military and intelligence services have waged a campaign to crush a nationalist insurgency there for years, much of the Afghan Taliban leadership shelters there, and the province’s large Shiite minority has frequently faced lethal attacks by sectarian militant groups.

New York Times