Pakistani troops have mobilised to help the victims of an earthquake centred in nearby Iran that killed at least 34 people, as the United States offered help to both nations.
The epicentre of Tuesday’s magnitude 7.8 quake lay in southeast Iran, but most of the deaths reported so far have been across the border in Pakistan’s province of Baluchistan, where hundreds of mud-built homes suffered damage.
Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported one death and five injuries as of Wednesday morning.
The powerful tremor shook the ground and caused panic as far afield as Kuwait and the Indian capital New Delhi. Thousands of people evacuated towering residential and office buildings in Dubai.
It was also felt in Abu Dhabi, the Saudi capital Riyadh and Oman.
A new aftershock early on Wednesday disturbed the locals on the Iran-Pakistan border. The US Geological Survey measured its magnitude at 5.7.
Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from the Pakistani port city of Karachi, said despite the earthquake being centred in Iran, Pakistan had borne the brunt of the impact.
Residents of the Mashkail village in Washuk district, around 3km from the border with Iran, were particularly affected by the tremor, he said.
Regular army and paramilitary forces had deployed to help the relief effort after the quake brought down homes in Pakistan’s Mashkail area of Baluchistan.
Two military helicopters carrying medical teams have been sent to the area while paramilitary troops are being mobilised to supplement the relief efforts, they said.
“At least 34 people have been killed and 80 others wounded in Mashkail,” a local government official told the AFP news agency.
State of emergency
At least 27 people were hurt in Iran, according to a local governor speaking to the official IRNA news agency.
Earlier reports by another Iranian news agency, ISNA, had reported an estimated 46 deaths there, however, only one death has been confirmed thus far.
IRNA said crisis management authorities had declared a state of emergency in the area.
The head of Iran’s Red Crescent rescue corps, Mahmoud Mozafar, said communications to the stricken areas had been cut.
The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 7.8, and said it struck near the Iranian city of Khash, in Sistan-Baluchestan.
David Rothery, chair of Volcanoes, Earthquakes and Tsunamis course at Britain’s Open University, said “this morning’s earthquake in Iran was strong … but fortunately its source was quite deep”.
Last week, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake also hit Iran killing at least 37 people and injuring 850 more in the country’s southwest.
In December 2003, a big earthquake struck the southern city of Bam.
It killed 31,000 people – about a quarter of the population – and destroyed the city’s ancient mud-built citadel.