Pakistan quake survivors wait for aid

InternationalA girl sits on the rubble of her house in Labach, Balochistan, on Thursday. AP

Hungry survivors dug through rubble to find food and thousands slept under the open sky or in makeshift shelters for a second night as the toll from Pakistan's massive earthquake rose to 355 Thursday.

Rescuers battled to reach remote areas of the impoverished region in the wake of Tuesday's magnitude 7.7 quake in southwestern Balochistan province. The quake flattened wide swathes of Awaran district where it was centered, leaving much of the population homeless.

Spokesman for the provincial government Jan Mohammad Bulaidi said 355 people were confirmed dead and nearly 700 injured. "We need more tents, more medicine and more food," he said.

In Dalbadi village, almost all of the 300 mud-brick homes were destroyed.

Noor Ahmad said he was working when the quake struck and rushed home to find his house levelled and his wife and son dead. "I'm broken," he said.

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

Awaran district is one of the poorest in the country's most impoverished province. Houses made of mostly mud and handmade bricks stood little chance against the massive quake. Balochistan is Pakistan's largest province but also the least populated. Medical facilities are few and often poorly stocked with supplies and qualified personnel. Awaran district has about 3,00,000 residents spread out over 29,000 square km.

Many injured were ferried to the port city of Karachi or Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, for treatment.

The local economy consists mostly of smuggling fuel from Iran or harvesting dates.

The area where the quake struck is at the centre of an insurgency that Baloch separatists have been waging against the Pakistani government for years. The separatists regularly attack Pakistani troops and symbols of the state, such as infrastructure projects. It's also prone to quakes. A magnitude 7.8 quake centered just across the border in Iran killed at least 35 people in Pakistan last April.

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