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Poor Logistics, Attacks Hinder Quake Rescue Efforts In Balochistan

  • RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

A survivor of the earthquake in Balochistan walks near the rubble of a mud house that collapsed during the temblor.

A survivor of the earthquake in Balochistan walks near the rubble of a mud house that collapsed during the temblor.

Difficulties in reaching remote communities and threats from separatist rebels have hampered rescue efforts in the aftermath of a massive earthquake in Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan.

Officials say the death toll so far from the 7.7-magnitude quake on September 24 has climbed to at least 355 killed and more than 600 injured.

More than 1,000 rescuers and soldiers were trying to reach the disaster zone in Awaran district on September 26 but their deployment was hampered by a rocket attack on a helicopter carrying a Pakistani military commander and the head of the country's disaster agency.

Separately a team of medics was also attacked in the same area.

Residents of Awaran speak of widespread destruction after the quake.

"I have received some data and some people are sharing information with me and according to that, the number of casualties is 1,000," Zahid Baloch, a local social worker, told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal. "Of course, the number can go up and the number of casualties is different in different areas -- there are 55 deaths in Gishkor, 81 deaths in Malar, and the number could go up because the injured are in critical condition and that may lead to an increase in the number of deaths."

Ahmad Hussain, principal of a college in Awaran, said almost everyone in the sparsely populated remote region is affected.

"There is a lot of destruction in the different villages," Hussain said. "The mud houses have caved in, and both local and governmental organizations are busy with relief. But the people have yet to get suitable assistance. The people are struggling to get water and food."

The quake also affected the nearby districts of Kech, Khuzdar, Kharan, Gwadar, Panjgur, and Chaghi, destroying scores of dwellings, and knocked out communication networks.

It left more than 100,000 people homeless and is said to have affected some 300,000 people.

Difficulties in reaching remote communities and threats from separatist rebels have hampered rescue efforts in the aftermath of the massive earthquake in Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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