At least 170 dead as strong quake strikes southwestern Pakistan

At least 170 dead as 
   strong quake strikes 
   southwestern Pakistan

Pakistani villagers remove their belonging from a house damaged by the earthquake in Ziarat, about 130 kilometers south of Quetta.

October 30, 2008, Thursday/ 19:19:00/ AP
A strong earthquake struck before dawn Wednesday in southwestern Pakistan, killing at least 170 people, injuring scores more and leaving an estimated 15,000 homeless, officials said.

The toll could rise as rescuers dig for survivors in a remote valley in Baluchistan, an impoverished province bordering Afghanistan where the magnitude 6.4 quake struck.

Worst-hit was the former British hill top resort of Ziarat and about eight surrounding villages, where hundreds of mud-brick and timber houses were destroyed, officials said, including some buried in landslides triggered by the quake. “There is great destruction,” said Ziarat Mayor Dilawar Kakar. “Not a single house is intact.”

Aftershocks rattled the area throughout the day, including one estimated at magnitude 6.2 in the late afternoon. There were no reports additional casualties or damage. Kakar, the mayor, said the death toll from the quake was 170, with 375 injured. Around 15,000 people were made homeless, he said. Kakar appealed to “the whole world” for help, but the head of Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority said an international relief effort would not likely be necessary.

In the village of Sohi, a reporter for AP Television News saw the bodies of 17 people killed in one collapsed house and 12 from another. Distraught residents were digging a mass grave in which to bury them.

Students seek news of families after quake hits Turkish college

A Turkish college operating in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, survived unscathed a powerful earthquake that struck the Ziarat region, 70 kilometers northeast of the capital city, on Wednesday morning.

The school’s teachers and students are well but have been unable to communicate with some students’ families in the affected region, a school official has said.

Pakistani-Turkish International School and College Quetta branch headmaster Ebubekir Haspolat said strong shaking woke everyone at the school up in the early morning. The school’s dormitory was immediately evacuated, and everyone remained outside until morning. Communication was cut off in the region, Haspolat said.

Haspolat said they tried to contact the families of the students who come from the Ziarat region but were unfortunately unable to reach anyone. According to initial reports from the region, eight villages were heavily damaged by the powerful earthquake and four were completely destroyed. Buildings in the four villages were made of adobe. Reuters reported 160 bodies were recovered from various villages in Ziarat.

Haspolat noted that the school has seven Turkish teachers -- two of whom came to the school with their entire family. “We have not been affected by the earthquake; however, we are worried about our students’ families.” He also said they would try to get in touch with the families. “If we are unable to get in contact with the students’ families, we will go through the region together with the students and try to locate them,” he said. İstanbul Today’s Zaman

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