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Quake hits Iran and Pakistan

People stand outside of their office buildings following an earthquake tremor in Karachi, Pakistan, yesterday. Photo: Reuters

People stand outside of their office buildings following an earthquake tremor in Karachi, Pakistan, yesterday. Photo: Reuters

A powerful earthquake that struck a border area of southeast Iran killed at least 13 people in neighbouring Pakistan yesterday, destroying hundreds of houses and shaking buildings as far away as India and Gulf Arab states.

Communications with the area, a sparsely populated desert and mountain region, were largely cut and hindered preliminary reports of casualties in Iran.

An Iranian provincial governor later said there were no reports of deaths there so far.

The epicentre was far from any of Iran’s nuclear facilities but the quake, the second large one in Iran in a week, served as a reminder of how tremor-prone the region is, a factor behind concerns about safety at Iran’s only nuclear power plant.

“Our staff were in a meeting and we felt the ground shake,” Saleh Mangi, Programme Unit Manager for Plan International in the Pakistani town of Thatta, was quoted as saying by the UK office of the children’s charity.

“It was horrible – we felt the movement in the chairs and even the cupboards were shaking. This is the strongest quake I have felt since the 1980s.”

Pakistani officials said at least eight people were killed and 20 injured in the town of Mashkeel in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan, which borders Iran.

Mohammed Ashraf, head of a health centre in Mashkeel, said several hundred houses in the town had collapsed. Three women and two children were also killed when their mud house collapsed in the Baluchistan district of Panjgur.

“The earthquake has killed at least five people in Panjgur,” said Ali Imran, an official at the government disaster-response unit in Quetta, Baluchistan’s main city.

Iran appeared to have emerged relatively unscathed. National media reported that 27 people were injured and that the significant depth was the likely reason for the relatively low level of damage from a 7.8 magnitude quake.

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