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Pakistan hit by 7.8-magnitude earthquake

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A scientist points to a seismograph at a monitoring station in Strasbourg, eastern France. A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake has rattled southwestern Pakistan, according to the US Geological Survey. (AFP/File)

A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit southwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, the US Geological Survey said, with tremors felt as far away as the Indian capital New Delhi.

The quake struck at 4:29 pm local time (1129 GMT) around 100 kilometres (60 miles) southwest of the city of Khuzdar in Baluchistan province, at a depth of 15 kilometres.

USGS originally measured the earthquake at magnitude 7.4 and 29 kilometres deep but later revised their figure. Pakistan's meteorological office gave the magnitude as 7.7.

The area of the epicentre is sparsely populated, but the USGS issued a red alert for the quake, warning that heavy casualties were likely, based on past data.

A senior Pakistani meteorologist, Muhammad Riaz, told Dunya TV station it was a "major" earthquake and "heavy destruction" was likely.

Minor tremors were felt as far away as New Delhi, while office workers in the city of Ahmedabad near the border with Pakistan ran out of buildings and into the street.

Mumtaz Baluch, senior local administration official in Awaran district, 350 kilometres southwest of Quetta, told AFP: "There are reports of houses being collapsed in the district due to earthquake."

"We also have initial information about injuries to people as a result of the collapse of houses but there are no reports of any deaths."

"We have dispatched our teams to the affected area to ascertain the losses."

In April a 7.8-magnitude quake centred in southeast Iran, close to the border with Baluchistan, killed 41 people and affected more than 12,000 on the Pakistan side of the border.

People working in offices Karachi rushed out of their building and sat on the footpaths along the roads or stood away from the buildings.

"My work table jerked a bit and again and I impulsively rushed outside," Noor Jabeen, a 28-year woman working for an insurance company said while breathing heavily.

"It was not so intense but it was terrible," said Owais Khan, who works for a provincial government office.

"Whenever I feel jolts it reminds me of the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir," said Amjad Ali, 45, IT official standing on the road said.

A 7.6 magnitude quake in 2005 centred in Kashmir, killed at least 73,000 people and left several million homeless in one of the worst natural disasters to hit Pakistan.

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