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Massive quake jolts Iran,Pakistan,at least 76 killed

Pakistan bears brunt of strongest quake to hit Iran in over 50 years

Written by Associated Press | Quetta |
April 17, 2013 1:09:22 am

A powerful earthquake struck a border area of southeast Iran Tuesday killing at least 35 people in neighbouring Pakistan,destroying hundreds of houses and shaking buildings as far away as India and Gulf Arab states.

Communications with the sparsely-populated desert and mountain region were largely cut off,making it difficult to assess Iranian casualties. But an Iranian provincial governor later said there were no reports of deaths there so far.

“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 British office of the children’s charity. “This is the strongest quake I have felt since the 1980s.”

Pakistani officials said at least 35 people were killed and 150 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 caved in. 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.

Pakistan’s army said it had deployed troops and helicopters to ferry tents,medicines and medical teams to Mashkeel.

There were some questions regarding the Iranian death toll as initially,the state media said at least 46 people died. Later however,Iranian reports offered a far milder picture.

The discrepancies and apparent backtracking in the Iranian reports could not be immediately reconciled,but Iran has faced two large quakes in less than week and authorities could seek to downplay casualties.

Iran’s state-run Press TV initially said at least 41 people were killed on the Iranian side,but later removed the figure from its website and news scroll. Other state-controlled outlets,including the official IRNA news agency,mentioned no deaths and only injuries,quoting a local official.

The website of Tehran Geophysics Centre said the quake,measured at least magnitude 7.8,lasted 40 seconds and called it the strongest in more than 50 years in one of the world’s most seismically active areas. Press TV called it “massive”.

Press TV said the quake was centered near Saravan,about 50 km from the Pakistani border. The US Geological Survey put the preliminary magnitude at 7.8 and at a depth of 15.2 kilometers.

Press TV said least 41 were killed,but gave no other immediate details on the extent of damage or casualties. Later,the reference to the death toll was dropped from Press TV’s website and the news agency IRNA said only at least 27 people were injured.

5.6 quake hits Papua New Guinea: USGS

Sydney: A 5.6 magnitude quake struck Papua New Guinea Tuesday,the US Geological Survey said. The quake hit 125 km southwest of Panguna on Bougainville Island at 8:00 pm local time (10:00 GMT),at a depth of 10 kilometres. Strong earthquakes are common in the impoverished country,which sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire,a hotspot for seismic activity. A giant tsunami in 1998 killed more than 2,000 people on the country’s northwest coast.

Iran’s Worst

April 10,1972

An earthquake measuring 7.1 magnitude struck southern Iran around Ghir Karzin,killing 5,074 people.

September 16,1978

15,000 people were killed by an earthquake measuring 7.8,which levelled the eastern desert town of Tabas and many nearby villages.

June 11,1981

A quake measuring 6.9 destroyed the town of Golbaf,800 km (500 miles) southeast of Tehran,killing about 3,000 people and injuring 800.

June 21,1990

50,000 died and 100,000 were injured in the worst recorded disaster in Iran. The quake,magnitude 7.4,devastated the Caspian regions of Gilan and Zanjan. 500,000 were made homeless.

June 22,2002

An earthquake measuring 6.5 magnitude razed dozens of villages in north Iran’s Qazvin province,killing 261.

December 26,2003

An earthquake measuring 6.6 devastated the city of Bam,1,000 km southeast of Tehran,killing 31,000.

February 22,2005

A strong earthquake of magnitude 6.4 in south-east Iran killed 612 people and injured more than 1,000 in and around the town of Zarand in Kerman province,about 700 km (440 miles) southeast of Tehran.

August 11,2012

Two strong quakes,measuring 6.4 and 6.3 respectively,killed over 250 and injured 2,000 near Tabriz,East Azerbaijan,a mountainous region neighbouring Azerbaijan.

Ready to assist quake victims in Iran,Pak: US

Washington: The US is ready to provide any humanitarian assistance to the victims of the earthquake in Iran and Pakistan,a State Department official today said.

“We have seen the reports of the earthquake near Khash on the Iran-Pakistan border,and we’re monitoring the situation. We offer our condolences to the families who lost loved ones during the earthquake,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters at his daily news conference. “The United States does stand ready to assist either Iran or Pakistan at this point,” Ventrell said.

The official said the US has in the past made exception to provide direct humanitarian assistance to Iran; against whom it has imposed tough economic sanctions,because of its controversial nuclear programme.

“We have in the past provided direct emergency assistance in terms of supplies and other technical assistance. I can’t remember the year when there was a very major earthquake,going back a few years,but we did provide direct assistance at that time,” Ventrell said.


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