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Pakistanis struggle for food, shelter after quake

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 25, 2013 at 11:59 pm •  Published: September 25, 2013
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DALBADI, Pakistan (AP) — Survivors built makeshift shelters with sticks and bedsheets after their mud houses were flattened in an earthquake that killed 348 people in southwestern Pakistan and pushed a new island up out of the Arabian Sea.

While waiting for help to reach remote villages, hungry people dug through the rubble to find food. And the country's poorest province struggled with a dearth of medical supplies, hospitals and other aid.

Tuesday's quake flattened wide swathes of Awaran district, where it was centered, leaving much of the population homeless.

Almost all of the 300 mud-brick homes in the village of Dalbadi were destroyed. Noor Ahmad said he was working when the quake struck and rushed home to find his house leveled and his wife and son dead.

"I'm broken," he said. "I have lost my family."

The spokesman for the Baluchistan provincial government, Jan Mohammad Bulaidi, said Thursday that the death toll had climbed to 348 and that another 552 people had been injured.

Doctors in the village treated some of the injured, but due to a scarcity of medicine and staff, they were mostly seen comforting residents.

The remoteness of the area and the lack of infrastructure hampered relief efforts. Awaran district is one of the poorest in the country's most impoverished province.

Just getting to victims was challenging in a region with almost no roads where many people use four-wheel-drive vehicles and camels to traverse the rough terrain.

"We need more tents, more medicine and more food," said Bulaidi.

Associated Press images from the village of Kaich showed the devastation. Houses made mostly of mud and handmade bricks had collapsed. Walls and roofs caved in, and people's possessions were scattered on the ground. A few goats roamed through the ruins.

The Pakistani military said it had rushed almost 1,000 troops to the area overnight and was sending helicopters as well. A convoy of 60 Pakistani army trucks left the port city of Karachi early Wednesday with supplies.

Pakistani forces have evacuated more than 170 people from various villages around Awaran to the district hospital, the military said. Others were evacuated to Karachi.

One survivor interviewed in his Karachi hospital bed said he was sleeping when the quake struck.

"I don't know who brought me from Awaran to here in Karachi, but I feel back pain and severe pain in my whole body," he said.

Jan said he didn't know what happened to the man's family. He was trying to contact relatives.

Local officials said they were sending doctors, food and 1,000 tents for people who had nowhere to sleep. The efforts were complicated by strong aftershocks.

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