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Magnitude 7.7 earthquake kills at least 80 people in Pakistan

Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) -- A magnitude 7.7 earthquake that struck western Pakistan yesterday killed at least 80 people, and the death toll is expected to climb, a provincial official said.

“There are villages in remote areas that are cut off from landslides,” Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo, deputy speaker of the Balochistan provincial assembly, said by phone. “The damages are huge and with communication down, reaching people and getting precise information has become a very difficult job.”

The quake struck 41 miles (66 kilometers) north-northeast of Awaran in Balochistan province bordering Afghanistan and Iran, the U.S. Geological Survey said on its website.

“There are mostly mud houses in the locality, and most of the deaths have been due to roof collapse,” Syed Wajid Raza, the chief of staff at the nation’s Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority, said by phone from Islamabad yesterday.

Communication in Awaran district, where there are about 200,000 people, has been cut off, according to Jan Muhammad Buledi, a Balochistan government spokesman.

“It’s difficult to say what the damages are because all communications have fallen there,” Buledi said by phone, adding that many of the mud houses in the area have collapsed. “It is the worst-affected area by the earthquake. A state of emergency has been issued and all hospitals are on alert.”

No major destruction was reported in Quetta, Balochistan’s capital, Geo TV reported, citing unidentified rescue officials. The province is among the least developed and most thinly populated in Pakistan.

Television images showed people standing outside their homes and offices in the commercial capital of Karachi, about 580 kilometers away. Other cities that were affected included Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkana, Thatta and Nawabshah, Geo TV reported.

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