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SHAKE AND BLOW
US offers aid as Iran quake kills 34 in Pakistan
by Staff Writers
Quetta, Pakistan (AFP) April 17, 2013


6.6-magnitude quake rocks Papua New Guinea
Sydney (AFP) April 17, 2013 - A 6.6-magnitude earthquake shook Papua New Guinea's north Wednesday in a region where a huge tsunami killed more than 2,000 people in 1998, with reports suggesting the area escaped serious damage.

The quake, at a depth of just 13 kilometres (eight miles), hit 23 km east of the small town of Aitape, with a population of around 8,000 on the Pacific nation's north coast, the US Geological Survey said.

"We are aware of the earthquake off Aitape in Papua New Guinea. There have been no reports of serious damage or injury," a spokeswoman from Australia's foreign office told AFP.

No destructive tsunami warning was issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center but it cautioned that earthquakes of this size could sometimes generate local tsunami waves.

A giant tsunami in 1998 smashed into the coastline around Aitape following an off-shore earthquake that triggered waves measuring up to 10 metres, which swept away churches, schools and other buildings.

Phone lines to Aitape appeared to be down but the PNG National Disaster Centre said it had been in touch with officials in the town of Vanimo some 150 kilometres away and no tsunami waves had been seen.

"If there was going to be a tsunami it would have been there by now," Chris McKee from the disaster office said.

Geoscience Australia said around 60,000 people would be in the exposure zone.

"There is the possibility of considerable damage. It certainly could bring buildings down," seismologist Steve Tatham told AFP.

"This would include outlying local villages," he said, adding that there would have been "a high level of shaking".

Police, ambulance and church officials in Aitape could not be reached but the PNG National Broadcasting Corporation said it had spoken to community leader Paul Reptario in the town.

"He says his whole house was shaking while his vehicle almost overturned," the broadcaster said.

"He ran down to the beach to check for signs of tsunami like receding waves but there was none. Reptario says houses and other infrastructure in his village were not damaged," it added.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation also cited an Aitape local as saying there had been no unusual waves and no significant damage, but said that people had panicked.

"They were all running around the street. They were frightened maybe the sea will come up," said Max Kamave from the Aitape Resort Hotel.

Personnel at Wewak Hospital, about 150 kilometres from the coastal epicentre, said they too felt the tremor but there was no immediate reports of damage from their town.

"It was a strong one. This is a solid building -- not iron but solid -- and it was shaking," hospital spokesman Morris Iuandu told AFP.

He estimated that the swaying had lasted at least three minutes.

Wewak resident Gregory Moses described it as a "huge earthquake".

"Everything literally was shaking and I thought the roof was going to cave in any minute but thank God its now over," he said on Facebook.

Quakes of such magnitude are common in impoverished PNG, which sits on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.

A 6.6-magnitude quake struck the country's Bougainville Island on Sunday, but there were no reports of damage or injuries.

Pakistani troops have mobilised to help the desperately poor victims of an earthquake centred in nearby Iran that killed at least 34 people, as the United States offered help to both nations.

The epicentre of Tuesday's 7.8 magnitude quake lay in southeast Iran but all of the deaths so far have been reported across the border in Pakistan's remote province of Baluchistan, where hundreds of mud-built homes suffered damage.

The powerful tremor shook the ground and caused panic as far afield as Kuwait and the Indian capital New Delhi. Thousands of people evacuated towering residential and office buildings in Dubai.

In Pakistan, officials said that regular army and paramilitary forces had deployed to help the relief effort after the quake brought down homes in the Mashkail area of Baluchistan.

Two military helicopters carrying medical teams have been sent to the area while paramilitary troops are being mobilised to supplement the relief efforts, they said.

"At least 34 people have been killed and 80 others wounded in Mashkail," a local government official told AFP.

"The bodies are at the hospital and the injured are being treated by army doctors. Paramilitary forces are busy in rescue work."

Baluchistan, a dirt-poor province bordering Iran and Afghanistan, is plagued by Islamist militancy, attacks on the Shiite Muslim minority and a separatist Baluch insurgency.

Putting aside America's longstanding enmity with Iran, and its more recent strains in relations with Pakistan, US Secretary of State John Kerry offered "our deepest condolences" to the families of the dead and to the injured.

"We stand ready to offer assistance in this difficult time," he said.

Disaster relief contributed to an earlier thaw in relations between the United States and Iran, which -- then led by reformist president Mohammad Khatami -- accepted US personnel following the huge Bam earthquake in 2003.

The United States has also engaged in disaster diplomacy with Pakistan, briefly improving its abysmal image in the country through a robust relief operation following a 2005 earthquake in Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon also expressed condolences after Tuesday's Iran-Pakistan disaster.

"I will continue to follow the news closely as relief workers and search-and-rescue teams reach the areas. The United Nations stands ready to help as necessary if asked to do so," he said.

The quake struck at 3:14 pm Iranian time (1044 GMT) with its epicentre around 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of the city of Khash, in the Iranian province of Sistan Baluchistan, US seismologists said.

A local health official in Iran told the Fars news agency that more than 20 villages were probably "severely damaged", based on initial reports.

At least 27 people were hurt in Iran, according to a local governor speaking to the IRNA news agency, but there was no immediate confirmation of any deaths.

The quake came a week after another struck near Iran's Gulf port city of Bushehr, killing at least 30 people.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported that the latest quake had caused no damage to Iran's nuclear power plant at Bushehr or any other nuclear facilities.

Iran sits astride several major seismic faults. The Bam quake in December 2003 killed more than 26,000 people and destroyed the city's ancient mud-built citadel.

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

David Rothery, who chairs the volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis course at Britain's Open University, said the depth of Tuesday's quake -- 82 kilometres underground -- would have lessened its impact.

But he added that the area straddling the Iran-Pakistan border "is mountainous, and damage can be expected from landslides as well as because of poorly constructed buildings".

burs-jit/jw

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Related Links
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
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SHAKE AND BLOW
Huge quake hits Iran, kills 34 in Pakistan
Quetta, Pakistan (AFP) April 16, 2013
A powerful earthquake struck southeastern Iran on Tuesday, killing at least 34 people across the border in Pakistan and shaking buildings as far away as the Gulf and New Delhi. The quake, measured at magnitude 7.8 by the US Geological Survey, damaged hundreds of mud-built buildings in remote southwestern Pakistan and comes a week after another struck near Iran's Gulf port city of Bushehr, ki ... read more


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