Rescue operations have begun in southwest Pakistan, following a 7.7-magnitude earthquake. Initial reports indicated tremors were felt as far away as New Delhi, India. Officials have said they expected heavy damage.
A strong earthquake struck near the town of Khuzdar, located in Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan on Tuesday. The large province shares its western border with Iran and Afghanistan.
The US Geological Survey and Pakistan's meteorological office reported a 7.7-magnitude had struck at a depth of 20 kilometers (12 miles) around 4:39 local time (1129 GMT).
At least 45 people were killed in Awaran district where it struck, according to National Disaster Management Authority Kamra Zia. Officials expected the death toll to increase. They estimated at least 20 people had been injured in the quake.
"We are trying to assess the damage," Baluch Home Secretary Asad Gilani.
Tremors were felt in Pakistan's major cities of Karachi and Quetta, which lie over 300 kilometers to Khuzdar's north and south, respectively. Residents reportedly fled their homes and offices as the quake shook the cities. There were also reports of tremors felt as far away as New Delhi, India.
Initial reports indicated collapsed houses in some areas, although these reports could not be immediately confirmed.
It was not immediately clear how many people sustained injuries or were killed in the earthquake.
In April, an earthquake of the same magnitude claimed at least 40 lives across the border in Iran.
kms/hc (AP, AFP, dpa)