An earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter Scale shook parts of Balochistan and Sindh on Tuesday, killing at least 50 persons and injuring many in Awaran. The U.S. Geological Survey on its website said the earthquake occurred at 4.29 p.m. and the epicentre was 69 km north of Awaran, and 270 km north of Karachi. Dawn correspondent Salim Shahid told The Hindu on the phone from Quetta that 50 deaths had been confirmed by the Awaran district administration. There were at least four aftershocks.

Land mass in sea

The powerful quake pushed up a 40 to 60 feet high and around 200-foot-long land mass in the sea near the port city of Gwadar in Balochistan. Deputy Inspecter General of Police, Makran region, Mozam Jah said that soon after the quake the land mass emerged around 600 m from the coast. Local journalist Behram Baloch told the Dawn correspondent that such an island had emerged in Gwadar in 1960 also.

About 150 to 200 houses, mostly made of mud, stone and wooden planks, had collapsed in the remote district of Awaran in Balochistan province.

Rescue operations were under way. The army and medical teams have been dispatched to the area, according to media reports.

The tremors of the quake were felt in Karachi, Hyderabad and other places, including New Delhi. The provincial government has declared an emergency. Jam Kamal Khan, member of the National Assembly, was quoted on TV saying that the number of houses damaged could be 400 or more as rescue teams were yet to assess the damage.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is in New York, has directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to keep him updated regarding the losses, relief and evacuation measures, according to an official statement.

He said that the federal government would provide all possible assistance to the earthquake affected and asked NDMA and Pakistan Army to assist the local administration in relief activities.