Pakistan bears brunt of Iranian earthquake, 35 killed

QUETTA, Pakistan,  (Reuters) – A powerful earthquake struck a border area of southeast Iran yesterday 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.

“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 30 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.

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