Scores dead in Pakistan quake

At least 100 people have been killed after a 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit southwestern Pakistan, a senior official said, reported Aljazeera.

The earthquake caused buildings to collapse and prompted widespread panic in Baluchistan province early on Wednesday.

"More than 100 people have been killed and the death toll is expected to rise," Zamrak Khan, Pakistan's minister for revenue and rehabilitation, said.

"Eight villages in Ziarat have been badly affected and there are still many areas which have not yet been reached."

He said the government was preparing to provide food, shelter and medical care to survivors.

"Two areas are badly hit," Dilawar Khan, chief of the Ziarat district, said.

He 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.

"Rescue work is being carried out by the villagers themselves, but a larger operation is needed here," he said.

A reporter for Associted 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.

The Pakistani military said it was still assessing the damage in the area.

"We have received reports of heavy casualties, we can't confirm how many," Major Shabahat Hussain, a Quetta-based army spokesman, said.

"We have sent an army team there [to Ziarat] in a helicopter."

The earthquake took place at the shallow depth of 10km and hit about 70km northeast of the provincial capital of Quetta, the US Geographical Survey said.

The Pakistani Meteorological Department said that two tremors 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.

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."

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.

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