Iran quake kills eight, damages homes in Pakistan

A powerful earthquake in Iran on Tuesday damaged more than 1,000 homes in Pakistan, killing eight people in a remote community close to the desert border, a local health official and Pakistani state TV said.

PTV said the houses were damaged in Mashkail in Washuk district, where the deaths occurred, and 47 wounded were taken to a rural health centre in the area, around three kilometres (1.8 miles) from the Iranian border.

There were cracks in government buildings in the area and PTV said President Asif Ali Zardari had expressed grief over the losses in Iran and Pakistan.

Local hospital official Ashraf Baloch told AFP by telephone from Mashkail that at least eight people had been killed and several hundred houses had been damaged.

"The Washuk has been destroyed and also hundreds of houses have been damaged in surrounding villages," Baloch told AFP.

State television said that troops had been sent to the area to carry out rescue operation.

Iran's Seismological Centre said that the 7.5-magnitude quake struck at 3:14 pm (1044 GMT) in the country's southeast, close to the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan. The website of the US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 7.8.

Mehdi Zare, an official at the Seismological Centre, told state television that the earthquake was unprecedented in 56 years.

In December 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake killed 31,000 people in Iran's southern city of Bam and destroyed its ancient, mud-built citadel.

Tuesday's earthquake was felt across large parts of Pakistan including Islamabad, where buildings shook, and the largest city Karachi where tremors prompted many to flee buildings in terror.

There were no reports of significant damage to infrastructure.

Pakistan's Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity, one of Pakistan's biggest charities but on a UN terror blacklist as an alleged front for terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, announced on Twitter that its teams were already in place.

"Rescue and Aid Teams have reached Kharan and Panjgour while relief efforts are underway now in these districts," it wrote on its official account.

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the head of JuD and the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, also tweeted in English: "Our thought, prayers go out to the victims of earthquake in Iran affected areas in Pakistan. Our Rescue & aid Teams have reached at site."

Pakistan was hit by a 7.6-magnitude earthquake on October 8, 2005, that killed more than 73,000 people and left about 3.5 million homeless, mainly in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and parts of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.