Montreal Gazette

‘Massive’ quake kills dozens on Iran-pakistan border


TEHRAN — A major earthquake flattened homes and offices on both sides of the Iran-Pakistan border Tuesday, rattling buildings as far away as New Delhi and Dubai and killing dozens of people, including 34 in one Pakistani town.

The massive quake was the second to hit Iran in less than a week, but it was not immediatel­y clear how many people the temblor killed in the country.

Iranian state media said at least 46 people were killed, but later 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 a week and authoritie­s could seek to downplay casualties.

Iran’s state-run Press TV initially said at least 40 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.

On the Pakistani side of the border, a Pakistani military official said 34 were killed and at least 80 people were injured in the earthquake. All the casualties happened in the Pakistani town of Mashkal, the official said, who did not wish to be named in line with military policy.

The website of the Tehran Geophysics Centre said the quake measured at least magnitude 7.7 and 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.”

It also was the second deadly quake to hit Iran in less than a week after a magnitude 6.1 quake struck near Bushehr, on Iran’s Persian Gulf coast, killing at least 37 people and raising calls for greater internatio­nal safety inspectors at Iran’s lone nuclear reactor nearby.

Press TV said the quake was centred near Saravan, about 50 kilometres from the Pakistani border. The U.S. Geological Survey put the preliminar­y magnitude at 7.8 and at a depth of 15.2 kilometres.

State-run Pakistan Television, meanwhile, said at least six people were killed on its side of the border and at least 47 others were injured. Up to 1,000 mud homes were damaged, it added.

A Pakistani police officer, Azmatullah Regi, said nearly three dozen homes and shops collapsed in one village in the Mashkal area, which was the hardest hit by the quake. Rescue workers pulled the bodies of a couple and their three children, ages 5 to 15, from the rubble of one house, he said.

The Pakistani army ordered paramilita­ry troops to assist with rescue operations and provide medical treatment. Additional troops are being moved to the area, and army helicopter­s were mobilized to carry medical staff, tents, medicine and other relief items.

Several barracks that housed members of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps collapsed in the quake, said an official with the Frontier Corps in Quetta, the capital of Balochista­n province. He said a number of the dead and injured were members of the security force. He did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to release the informatio­n.

The official described the damage in Mashkal as massive, and said hundreds of people had been injured when their houses collapsed.

The quake was felt over a vast area f rom New Delhi — about 1,500 kilometres from the epicentre — to Gulf cities that have some of the world’s tallest skyscraper­s, including the record 830-metre Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

 ?? SHAKIL ADIL/ THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? People evacuate buildings as tremors from an earthquake are felt in Karachi, Pakistan, on Tuesday.
SHAKIL ADIL/ THE ASSOCIATED PRESS People evacuate buildings as tremors from an earthquake are felt in Karachi, Pakistan, on Tuesday.

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