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Pakistan escapes major quake damage

DALBANDIN, Pakistan — A powerful earthquake in Pakistan that also rocked buildings in India, Afghanistan and the United Arab Emirates damaged at least 200 mud-brick homes close to the epicenter, but caused no casualties, officials said Wednesday.

The 7.2 magnitude quake struck at 1:30 a.m. local time Wednesday in a remote area some 200 miles (320 kilometers) southwest of the Baluchistan provincial capital of Quetta, not far from the Afghan border. It sent thousands running from their homes in panic.

“I am sad over the damage caused to my home, but I am happy that we did not suffer any loss of life,” said Ali Dost in Dalbandin, a town of about 15,000 people located near the epicenter. Part of the roof in his simple home had collapsed.

In the hours after the quake, some Dalbandin residents were so worried about aftershocks that they sat outside in the cold and dark rather than return to their damaged homes, said police official Asad Ullah.

Two hundred tents and blankets had been distributed to quake-affected people, said Tahir Munir Minhas, the head of Baluchistan’s National Disaster Management Authority. Nighttime temperatures in the region hover around freezing.

The quake damaged some 200 homes in Dalbandin, said Nadeem Ahmed, chairman of the disaster authority. No casualties have been reported in the country so far, he said.

Quakes of 7.2 magnitude can cause massive destruction. Wednesday’s temblor was some 50 miles (84 kilometers) below the surface — relatively deep — something that typically reduces the destructive force of a quake. It was also in a very sparsely populated area.

Tremors were felt across much of south and central Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and the United Arab Emirates, according to residents. Authorities were still surveying remote areas of Baluchistan, said Saeed Jamali, deputy commissioner of Chaghi district, where Pakistan conducted its first nuclear tests in 1998.

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