The death toll of a powerful earthquake that hit Pakistan's southwest province of Balochistan on Tuesday afternoon has risen to 348 as 20 more bodies were recovered by rescue teams in the quake-hit areas, local media quoted an official as saying on Thursday.

93 killed as 7.7 magnitude earthquake hits SW Pakistan


Pakistani survivors search for household items in the debris of their destroyed houses in the earthquake-devastated district of Awaran in southwest Pakistan's Balochistan province on Sept. 25, 2013.


Abdul Rasheed Gadozai, deputy commissioner of Awaran, a district which was worst hit by the quake, told local media that 20 more bodies were recovered from a collapsed building in Mashkai, a small town in Awaran, late Wednesday night.

As of 6:30 p.m. (local time) Wednesday, 328 people were confirmed dead in the earthquake and 445 were injured, said the country's top disaster management organ National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in a press release.

A 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck Awaran district and its five neighbouring districts in Balochistan at about 4:30 p.m. (local time) Tuesday, leaving hundreds of houses leveled to the ground, including a number of schools.

In Mashkai, 40 students of a school were killed in the earthquake while attending classes, said local media.

Officials from local meteorological department said Tuesday's earthquake is the strongest in Pakistan in the past seven years.

The provincial government of Balochistan and the federal government of Pakistan have reacted swiftly to the catastrophe. Nearly 2,000 troops including 1,600 from the Army and 300 from Navy have been dispatched to the affected area. A Forward Operating Base has been set up in Khuzda in central Balochistan to oversee the rescue and relief operations in the affected region. Hundreds of tons of relief goods including food, tents, water, medicines have been sent to the affectees.

The international community including China, Turkey and Iran have expressed great concerns about the disaster in Pakistan and promised to offer help if needed.

Source: Xinhuanet