Image: Pakistan earthquake
Musa Farman  /  EPA
Earthquake survivors sit around a fire on Thursday to beat the cold in their temporary shelter a day after an earthquake hit Ziarat, Balochistan province in Pakistan.
updated 10/30/2008 2:17:55 PM ET 2008-10-30T18:17:55

Children begged for food from trucks passing through Pakistan's quake zone Thursday as the death toll rose to 215 and survivors prepared for another frigid night camped out amid wrecked mountain villages.

Provincial government minister Zamrak Khan said 215 people died and hospitals were still treating dozens of people who were seriously injured in the 6.4-magnitude quake that struck before dawn Wednesday.

Soldiers and foreign aid groups distributed blankets, warm clothes and tents, in Baluchistan province, near the Afghan border, but many among the estimated 15,000 homeless complained of receiving little help.

"The earthquake destroyed our houses, but now the government's slow response is killing us," said Moosa Kaleem, sitting with his wife and four children in the town of Ziarat. "We cannot spend another night in this chilling weather, especially the kids."

A poorly managed aid effort in Baluchistan could add to anti-government sentiment as the country's new leaders battle violence by Islamist extremists and try to fix mounting economic problems.

Unsettled region
The region is home to a separatist movement but has been spared the level of militant influence and violence seen in other tribal areas along the Afghan border.

Members of hard-line Islamist political parties and groups, including one listed by the United States as a terrorist organization, were among the first to aid quake victims.

The same groups helped out in the aftermath of a quake that killed 80,000 people in Kashmir and northern Pakistan in 2005, something analysts say gave them added legitimacy.

Aid groups said emergency shelter and warm clothing were urgently needed. Temperatures are close to freezing in the worst-affected areas more than 6,561 feet above sea level.

'I am hungry'
Dozens of children lined main roads in the region running after trucks in the hope of being thrown food.

"I am hungry, my mother is hungry," said 9-year-old Zarin Gull. "We must get food. We last ate yesterday evening."

Slideshow: Pakistan quake aftermath

The need for shelter was specially acute because many people, whose homes were untouched or only partially damaged, were choosing to sleep outdoors for fear of aftershocks.

Local officials and lawmakers repeatedly called on the central government and international community to provide more help.

"It is a complete emergency here. Nobody has anything to eat and drink," said Ziarat Mayor Dilawar Kakar. "We need a lot of resources to reconstruct, and stabilize these trauma stricken people."

The U.N. World Food Program pledged to supply two months worth of emergency rations for those displaced by the disaster, while the Red Cross was distributing 2,500 tents.

In the hillside hamlet of Kawas, soldiers distributed blankets, tents and sleeping bags to an impatient crowd of 500 people and helped load two dozen trucks with supplies destined for other areas.

In the capital Islamabad, Farooq Ahmad Khan, chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority, said Pakistan had not issued an appeal for foreign assistance, but any help would be accepted.

Seismic upheavals common
Pakistan is prone to seismic upheavals since it sits atop an area of collision between the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates, the same force responsible for the birth of the Himalayan mountains.

Baluchistan's capital, Quetta, was devastated by a 7.5-magnitude temblor in 1935 that killed more than 30,000 people.

Countries including the United States and Germany have offered to help with the latest disaster. However, officials say they can cope without a big international aid effort.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Deadly quake in Pakistan


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