At least 15 people have died in a new earthquake in the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan, where hundreds of people have already died and thousands more been affected by a previous tremor.

Saturday's earthquake measured 6.8 in magnitude, and occurred about 96km northeast of the city of Awaran, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said on Saturday.

It was not an aftershock it was an independent earthquake

Zahid Rafi, director of the National Seismic Centre of Pakistan

The quake occurred at a depth of 14.8km, which was similar to Tuesday's 7.7 magnitude earthquake.

The epicentres of the two tremors were about 30km apart, according to USGS data.

"It was not an aftershock it was an independent earthquake," Zahid Rafi, director of the National Seismic Centre of Pakistan, told local news television station Geo TV.

"We are hearing that several districts have been affected, there are preliminary reports coming in of damage," Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder reported from Awaran.

An AFP news agency reporter in Awaran said that hundreds of patients being treated in the aftermath of the previous quake fled a hospital in panic as the new tremor hit.

"We are checking but no reports of losses have yet been received," Jan Mohammad Buledi, spokesman for the provincial government, told AFP.

Relief activities hampered

At least 359 people were killed, and another 765 injured, when Tuesday's earthquake struck the impoverished region of southwestern Pakistan, according to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority's official figures.

Unofficial estimates put the number of dead at more than 500.

The government says that more than 185,000 people have been affected by the tremor, and that rescue and relief activities are being undertaken by the civil administration in conjunction with the army.

The population of Awaran district is scattered over more than 21,000 square kilometres of remote and rugged terrain, where infrastructure is limited, with few medical facilities or even roads.

At least 359 people died and hundreds were injured when a 7.7-magnitude quake hit same area on Tuesday [AFP]

Conditions are desperate among the survivors and many are going without food, water and shelter, having lost everything in the quake, Al Jazeera's Hyder reported.

"We have seen a very poor response ... it has been days and the proper assessments have not been done, the rescue relief efforts have not reached those faraway locations. Some [supplies are] arriving here in Awaran, but the distribution is very slow," he said on Saturday.

The government says that it has delivered more than 11,800 tents to survivors, and that several medical teams are now operating in the area. Other items to be distributed included blankets, food packets, water, mosquito nets and other essentials.

Rescue efforts have been hampered both by the remoteness of the area, and by attacks allegedly carried out by separatist Baloch rebels against army convoys carrying the aid.

Rebels have been fighting the Pakistani state in Balochistan for decades, demanding greater rights for ethnic Baloch and alleging that the federal government does not adequately recompense Balochistan for its natural resources. The campaign has intensified in recent years in the wake of a campaign of enforced disappearances of Baloch activists, allegedly carried out by Pakistani government and intelligence agencies.

While Saturday's earthquake was recorded as a fresh event, there have been 16 aftershocks in the region of Awaran since the first major earthquake on Tuesday, USGS data showed.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies