AWARAN: A press release of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) revealed on Thursday that a total of ten Army helicopters and 1200 troops were currently involved in relief and rescue activities in the quake-affected regions of Balochistan.
“Ten Pakistan Army helicopters are participating in rescue operations. So far 17 sorties have been flown to affected areas. As many as 500 wounded were evacuated/treated from different areas of Mashkai and Awaran to District hospital Awaran by Army/Frontier Corps troops.”
Detailing the food packages supplied, the press release said:
“7000 Kgs of food items, 1000 Kgs medicine and 200 tents have been distributed among the earthquake affectees. Cooked food is also being provided to homeless people in Awaran. More relief goods to include tents, blankets water and food items are enroute from Quetta and Karachi.”
ISPR also revealed that a field medical facility comprising 21 Doctors and 50 Para Medics were providing medical treatment to injured in the affected areas.
Awaran, Mashkai and Turbat (Kech) were cited as the areas most affected, with 311 people dying in Awaran and 44 in Kech.
As relief efforts speed up, the Pakistan Army’s official Facebook page also stated that relief assistance collection camps had been established by the Army at Karachi.
“Relief goods like packed food items/ grains, bottled water, medicines, tentage/ shelters can be deposited at COD, DHA or any nearby Rangers Unit,” said the statement.
Over 350 dead, over 600 injured
The National Disaster Management Authority reported earlier today that the Balochistan earthquake of September 24 had killed 355 people till now and injured 619 others, besides having flattened as many as 21, 000 houses.
Minister for Interior Affairs Chaudhry Nisar, while speaking at the National Assembly, said that he will head to Balochistan on September 27 and said that National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Maj Gen Muhammad Saeed Aleem, the chairman of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) as well as two Balochistan ministers are among officials who have visited the affected areas.
The ISPR earlier reported that Commander Southern Command Lt Gen Nasir Janjua, Frontier Corps IG Lt Gen Zia Shahid and General Officer (GOC) Commanding, Quetta Division, visited the Awaran district.
Some affected areas are difficult to access, even by helicopter, and Nisar said that these areas are considered a high priority right now.
Urban Search and Rescue Teams (with search dogs and technical equipment) have been dispatched to the affected areas, besides teams of doctors, paramedical staff and tonnes of food supplies.
Destruction in Mashkai
A scattered population and severe lack of infrastructure are making it harder to assess the destruction in Balochistan.
The NDMA report does not describe the damage in Mashkai, a relatively far-off ‘tehsil’ in the Awaran district. But Express News reported wide scale destruction in Mashkai as well.
Locals told Express News that Mashkai alone had had as many as 400 lives lost to the earthquake whereas 2000 have been injured. Areas Gujjar, Hafizabad, Khalidabad and Gizer have had thousands of villages reduced to rubble.
The shocks had caused a madrassah roof in Hafizabad to collapse, killing 20 female students who were later all buried together.
The 7.7-magnitude quake hit on Tuesday afternoon in the Awaran district.
The scale of the territory involved is daunting. Balochistan makes up about 45 percent of the Pakistan’s total area, and Awaran’s population is scattered over more than 21,000 square kilometres.
Tremors were felt on Tuesday as far away as New Delhi and even Dubai in the Gulf, while people in Ahmedabad, India, ran into the streets in panic.
Besides flattening homes and affecting more than 300,000 people in six districts, the earthquake also created a new island about 5 km from the coast and around 10 metres in height.