More than 230 killed in huge Pakistan quake

More than 230 killed in huge Pakistan quake

AWARAN, Pakistan - Pakistani rescuers strived to reach victims Wednesday of a huge earthquake that killed more than 230 people and toppled thousands of mud-built homes when it hit the country's southwest with enough force to create a new island off the coast.

The 7.7-magnitude quake struck on Tuesday afternoon in Baluchistan province's Awaran district - a dirt-poor expanse of land that is roughly the size of Wales.

Officials said 238 deaths had been confirmed so far, 208 in Awaran district, and the toll is expected to rise as rescue teams reach more villages in the remote area, which has been shaken by more than a dozen aftershocks.

"A total of six districts - Awaran, Kech, Gwadar, Panjgur, Chaghi and Khuzdar - and a population of over 300,000 have been affected by the earthquake," Jan Muhammad Buledi, spokesman for the Baluchistan government, told AFP.

The head of the provincial disaster management agency, Abdul Latif Kakar, told AFP 30 people had died in Kech district, a toll confirmed by a senior local official.

Buledi said teams were working to recover bodies, but the priority was to move the injured to hospitals as soon as possible - a difficult task in a desolate area with minimal infrastructure.

"We are seriously lacking medical facilities and there is no space to treat injured people in the local hospitals," he said.

"We are trying to shift seriously injured people to Karachi through helicopters and others to the neighbouring districts."

Karachi's Aga Khan hospital said they were preparing to receive injured, but none had arrived by midday.

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