Anger over the slow pace of relief work is mounting among tens of thousands of Pakistanis left homeless by a massive earthquake two days ago. Militants have fired rockets at a relief helicopter.
Pakistan's government deflected criticism of slow earthquake relief work on Thursday, saying "huge activity" was evident. Survivors begun demonstrating, saying they lacked food and shelter.
Authorities in Baluchistan province said collapses of mud-brick homes in the vast and sparse Arawan region had left more than 100,000 people homeless and the death toll had climbed to 348. In addition, 800 had injuries.
A helicopter carrying a general who heads Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority narrowly escaped two missiles fired allegedly by Baluch separatists who have waged a decades-long insurgency.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar told Pakistan's parliament that the army was trying to use C-130 plans to reach remote spots in Arawan, a region of 29,000 square kilometers (11,200 square miles).
The lead doctor at Arawan's main hospital, Ameer Buksh, said staff did not have an X-ray machine or laboratory to help treat hundreds of patients with crush injuries. Supplies of antibiotics and other medicines were low.
Outside Arawan's district office, 200 residents demonstrated, saying that dehydrated survivors were dying in 42 degree Celsius temperatures (108 Fahrenheit).
"The people who survived the earthquake are dying now because they have no food or water," said Abdul Latif, one of the protesting villagers. "We have not received anything from the government."
The epicenter of Tuesday's 7.7 magnitude quake is one of the poorest regions in Pakistan's most impoverished province.
Tents to be sent
Nisar said the government was preparing to send more than 14,000 tents. So far, 1,000 troops and rescuers with search dogs had been deployed in the region.
Seven tons of food and one ton of medicine had been sent.
"We have a major challenge in accessing and reaching far-flung areas to provide them [with] logistic support," Nisar added.
Tuesday's quake either destroyed or damaged more than 20,000 homes, according to disaster management officials.
Tuesday's quake is Pakistan's deadliest since a devastating quake in Kashmir in 2005 which killed 73,000 people.
ipj/rg (AFP, dpa, AP)