KARACHI: At least 55 people have been killed as a powerful earthquake struck southwest Pakistan on Tuesday, Kalat Commissioner said.

According to the Meteorological Department, the epicentre of the 7.7 magnitude earthquake was 120Km southwest of Khuzdar in Balochistan province at a depth of 23 kilometres. The US Geological Survey measured the earthquake at 7.8.

Tremors which began at 16:29 (PST) were felt for two minutes in several cities of Sindh and Balochistan.

Emergency was declared by Chief Minister Balochistan Dr Abdul Malik Baloch in the Awaran district of the province which was the most affected by the earthquake. Officials said the tremors demolished dozens of mud houses and it was feared that the death toll would increase.

According to Kalat Commissioner, 33 people lost their lives while 28 others injured in Awaran district as a result of quake. Eight people died in Kech district, he added.

DG ISPR Major General Asim Bajwa tweeted that Khuzdar would be the base for rescue efforts and night flying helicopters with medics were on their way. He added that 300 soldiers were busy in rescues efforts and the strength would grow to 1,000 by late morning.

Speaking to Geo News, Chief Meteorologist Muhammad Riaz said: “this was a major earthquake and heavy destruction is likely.”

Residents of cities where tremors were felt ran out of their offices and homes onto the roads. Apart from Awaran there have been no reports of major damage or loss of life in other cities.

Light tremors were also felt in Northern India, Iran, UAE and Oman.

In April a 7.8-magnitude quake centered in southeast Iran, close to the border with Baluchistan, killed 41 people and affected more than 12,000 on the Pakistan side of the border.

A 7.6 magnitude quake in 2005 centered in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, killed at least 73,000 people and left several million homeless in one of the worst natural disasters to hit Pakistan.

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