Quetta - Aftershocks, as strong as magnitude six, jolted parts of Balochistan again on Wednesday morning, creating fear and panic among the people, while the death toll from Tuesday’s earthquake increased to 41.

More than 20,000 people are still waiting for relief activities in tehsil Mashkail, a remote area just about 20 kilometres from Iran, which was badly hit by Tuesday’s powerful quake of magnitude 7.8. Besides claiming 41 lives and wounding more than 100 people, the quake has either completely destroyed or severely damaged more than 300 houses and around 50 shops in Mashkail and other parts of Washuk district.

Sixteen seriously injured had been sent to Combined Military Hospital in Quetta through a chopper. Eight of the injured were being treated in the open in Mashkail by the FC medical team as cracks had developed in 10-bed mud-built facility. Sources said that the border authority of Iran opened the entry point near Mashkail, allowing the injured and their families to avail medical treatment in Iranian border town of Jalk.

Reports say two aftershocks hit Washuk and its adjacent districts, Chagai, Kharan and Nushki on Wednesday. However, no report of human loss or damage to property was reported from these aftershocks. Pak-Army and Frontier Corps (FC) have started relief activities, but affectees complained acute shortage of drinking water, food and tents, which are badly needed to guard against simmering heat.

The quake has also badly damaged the communication system in Mashkail and electricity supply from Iran was also suspended. Mashkail Assistant Commissioner Syed Murid Shah said that losses assessment was being carried out to initiate rehabilitation work. He said that Provincial Disaster Management Authority has sent 250 tents through the choppers. He said that earthquake hit during day when most of men, women and children were either out of their houses or in the courtyards and the death toll would have been much higher if it had come in night time.

Khair Jan, a resident of Mashkail city, told this scribe that two helicopters landed in Mashakil Tuesday night which provided first aid to the injured and shifted some of them to Dalbandin, Khanran and Quetta. “We are facing shortage of portable water, food and tents,” Khair Jan said, adding that the pace of relief work was too slow.

A journalist, Nadeem Awan said that hundreds of houses have been destroyed and damaged in Mashkail and the people needed immediate help. “Most of the local people are complaining about the non-availability of doctors and paramedics in the town hospital.

Provincial Disaster Management Authority Director General Khalid Baloch said that about 300 houses and shops were damaged in the Mashkail area. ”Earthquake has left over 1,500 people homeless in Mashkail tehshil.” He said that 360 tents had been provided to the affected people while 800 more have been dispatched by them.

Former Washuk district Nazim Mujeebur Rehman in a press conference demanded declaring Mashkail and its surrounding areas as disaster hit areas. He demanded relief activities at a large scale as the affectees were in desperate need of assistance.

Balochistan Caretaker Chief Minister Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Barozai has said that government was aware about the difficulties of the earthquake affectees and he directed authorities for indiscriminate distribution of relief items among the affectees in Mashakil.