Pakistan Earthquake: Mysterious Island Emerges After Magnitude 7.7 Quake Leaves Hundreds Dead

By Philip Ross on September 25, 2013 1:12 PM EDT

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The island that rose from the sea off Pakistan’s Gwadar coastline following the magnitude 7.7 earthquake on Tuesday. 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: Reuters)
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Survivors of an earthquake collect their belongings near the rubble of a mud house after it collapsed following the quake in the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan. The death toll rose to 328 on Wednesday after hundreds of mud houses collapsed on residents throughout the remote and thinly populated area, local officials said. (Photo: Reuters)

A powerful earthquake in Pakistan leveled houses in southwest Balochistan province on Tuesday, killing hundreds. Thousands more were forced to spend the night outside after the earthquake in Pakistan destroyed their homes. According to AFP, people used whatever they could find - rags, sheets, old clothes and even tree branches - to create makeshift shelters to shield their families from the sun.

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"We have lost everything, even our food is now buried under mud and water from underground channels is now undrinkable because of excessive mud in it due to the earthquake," one farmer, 45-year-old Noor Ahmed, told the AFP.

The magnitude 7.7 quake's epicenter was located just northeast of Awaran, a district in the south of Pakistan's Balochistan province, one of the country's poorest and most underdeveloped districts. It struck at a depth of 13 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, or USGS. The powerful tremor was felt as far away as India's capital city of New Delhi, roughly 500 miles from the Pakistan earthquake's epicenter.

The worst affected town was Awaran, which has a population of about 200,000. The number of confirmed deaths from the earthquake in Pakistan is 327 people, according to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, the federal institution responsible for disaster management. More than 450 others are reported injured. Reuters reports that the Pakistani army airlifted hundreds of soldiers to aid in the aftermath of the earthquake, which is the country's worst quake since 2005.

"Two hundred and eighty-five bodies have so far been recovered in the Awaran district," Abdul Rasheed Gogazai, the deputy commissioner of Awaran, told Reuters on Wednesday morning. "And 42 bodies were found in the neighboring Kech district. We have started to bury the dead."

Paramedics, tents and food packages were also sent to eh affected areas, according to a government spokesperson.

Hours after the earthquake in Pakistan rattled Balochistan province, a mysterious island appeared in the waters of the Arabian Sea just off the nearby port town of Gwadar. The Pakistan earthquake was reportedly powerful enough to cause the seabed to rise and create a small, rocky island.

According to The BBC, the rocky protrusion is about 650 feet long and 328 feet wide. Scientists have been sent to survey the island.

The New York Times reports that this isn't the first time Pakistanis have witnessed an island formation pop up out of the water. According to locals, a similar island cropped up 60 years ago, but eventually sank back into the water.

Pakistan is prone to strong earthquakes, like the one that rattled the country on Tuesday, because it sits near the convergence of four tectonic plates - the Arabia, Eurasia, India, and Africa. In Jan. 2011, 200 mud-brick homes in Baluchistan were damaged during a 7.2 magnitude quake. And in 2005, a 7.6 magnitude quake in northern Pakistan killed more than 80,000 people and left millions more homeless.

Read more from iScience Times:

Alaska Earthquake 2013 Shakes Aleutian Islands: Magnitude 7.0 Shock Send Residents Fleeing For Safety

Hayward Implosion: Building Near Hayward Fault Demolished, Yielding Earthquake Data [VIDEO]

Sumatra Earthquake 2013: Strong M-6.1 Tremor Rocks Indonesia's Islands, Killing At Least 6 [REPORT]

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