Photo: Survivors of the earthquake walk on the rubble of a collapsed mud house in Arawan, south-west Pakistan. (Reuters: Sallah Jan)
The death toll from a powerful earthquake in south-western Pakistan has passed 320, after hundreds of houses collapsed in a remote mountainous area.
According to the USGS, the magnitude 7.8 quake struck 235 kilometres south-east of Dalbandin in the quake-prone province of Baluchistan, which borders Iran.
Tremors were felt as far away as the Indian capital of New Delhi, hundreds of kilometres to the east, where buildings shook, as well as Dubai and Pakistan's sprawling port city of Karachi.
"We have started to bury the dead," said Abdul Rasheed Gogazai, the deputy commissioner of Awaran, the most affected district in Baluchistan province.
He said at least 373 people were wounded.
A local administration official in Awaran, Abdul Rasheed Baluch, said many more deaths were feared as response teams worked through the day.
"We have been busy in rescue efforts for the whole night and fear we will recover more dead bodies from under the rubble during the daylight," he said.
"Around 90 per cent of houses in the district have been destroyed. Almost all the mud houses have collapsed."
Some of the dead have already been laid to rest in their villages, he added.
Soldiers, medical teams mobilised for relief effort
The provincial government declared an emergency in Awaran and the military mobilised medical teams as well as 200 soldiers and paramilitary troops to help with the immediate relief effort.
"We have received reports that many homes in Awaran district have collapsed. We fear many deaths," Baluchistan government spokesman Jan Muhammad Baledi told the ARY news channel.
"There are not many doctors in the area but we are trying to provide maximum facilities in the affected areas."
Television footage showed collapsed houses, caved-in roofs and people sitting in the open air outside their homes, the rubble of mud and bricks scattered around them.
Awaran district has an estimated population of around 300,000 scattered over an area of more than 21,000 square kilometres.
In the regional capital of Quetta, officials said some areas appeared to be badly damaged but it was hard to assess the impact quickly because the locations were so remote.
Office workers in Karachi rushed out of their buildings.
"My work table jerked a bit and again and I impulsively rushed outside," 28-year-old resident Noor Jabeen said.
Government worker Owais Khan said: "It was not so intense, but it was terrible."
Amjad Ali, a 45-year-old information technology worker, says whenever there is a jolt "it reminds me of the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir".
The 7.6 magnitude quake in 2005 killed at least 73,000 people and left several million homeless in one of the worst natural disasters to hit Pakistan.
Quake creates a new island in the sea
The earthquake was so powerful that it caused the seabed to rise and create a small, mountain-like island about 600 metres off Pakistan's Gwadar coastline in the Arabian Sea.
Television channels showed images of a stretch of rocky terrain rising above the sea level, with a crowd of bewildered people gathering on the shore to witness the rare phenomenon.
Photo: The island that has risen from the sea just off Pakistan after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. (Twitter: @NewsweekPak)