Rescue operations sped up in Pakistan's quake-hit areas

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Pakistani authorities on Thursday said that rescue operations had been sped up in areas affected by the Tuesday's 7.9 magnitude earthquake in the country' s southwestern province of Balochistan near Pak-Iran border.

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) official told Xinhua on Thursday that at least 20 seriously injured people were airlifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in southwestern metropolitan of Quetta for better treatment while people with minor wounds were being treated in the field.

According to the official figures, at least 40 people were killed and over 300 others injured when tremors jolted the Mashkel area of Washuk district in Balochistan province besides leaving tens of thousands others homeless.

Members of Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps and NDMA officials are taking part in the rescue operation in the Mashkel, a far-flung town some 20 km away from Pak-Iran border inside Pakistan.

The rescue teams, with the assistance of five helicopters, were busy providing food items, water, medicines and tents to the quake victims.

The medical teams set up camps in the area and treated over 250 people with minor injuries.

The official said that some 40,000 people living in the area were affected in the natural disaster and were forced to live in the open as over 2,000 houses and shops were destroyed or damaged.

Besides the supplies through helicopters, 20 trucks of NDMA carrying 110 food packets, 350 tents, 100 bags of beans, 100 water coolers, 100 lamps, 100 bags of sugar, 10 bags of tea (50 kg each) reached the area on Thursday morning.

Local media reported that relief efforts were underway by the Pakistani military, but people complained about a shortage of food supplies, drinking water and tents as they have to stay under trees despite scorching heat.

The area has been without electricity since it was hit by the tremors as the power supply system was disrupted after some electricity poles fell.

Local residents are in panic and fear as two aftershocks of 6 and 4.9 magnitude respectively have struck the area since Tuesday' s tremors.

The NDMA official said that the scattered population in the affected areas hindered disaster assessment and rescue operations but the imagery of the hit areas provided by the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) is helping to save people from the rubble.

A team of experts has also been carrying out damage assessment in the affected areas to plan the ensuing rehabilitation, the official said. Endi

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