The toll in the devastating earthquake that struck Pakistan's Balochistan province sharply rose to over 300 on Thursday as thousands of people left homeless grappled with freezing temperatures amidst a series of powerful aftershocks.
Health official Ayub Kakar and Dilawar Khan Kakar, the mayor of Ziarat district which was hit hardest by Wednesday's quake, told state media more than 300 people had died so far and about 1,000 others were injured.
Residents of village in Ziarat, located close to the epicentre of the 6.5-magnitude quake, said they feared the
causalities might be over 400.
Local officials said up to 40,000 people had been left homeless. Some 200 houses were completely destroyed in 30
villages in Ziarat, they said.
A string of aftershocks added to panic among survivors, many of whom spent Wednesday night in the open as temperatures plummeted to between -1 and -4° Celsius.
Rescue workers put up tents for survivors but only 3,000 people could be accommodated in one relief camp.
Landslides in some parts of the quake-hit mountainous areas blocked roads and hampered relief operations. Aid workers said the toll could rise further as they expected more bodies would be dug out of the rubble of mud brick homes that collapsed in Ziarat and Pishin districts.
"The road from Quetta to Ziarat, a stretch of some 70 km, has developed cracks and it is difficult to bring in relief or take people who need hospital care to Quetta," a local rescuer said.