"Critical” situation of Balochistan quake as Caritas Pakistan aids victims
The death toll has risen to 515, at least 400 wounded and 300 thousand people affected in various ways by the devastating earthquake. The Catholic aid organization launches coordination and rescue operations thanks to " excellent relations " with the Muslim majority and the government authorities . However, rescue operations "are slow " and supplies " limited."

Islamabad ( AsiaNews) - "The situation in the area is still very critical . I have 515 confirmed dead , about 400 injured and the number of people affected is around 300", Amjad Gulzar , executive director of Caritas Pakistan tells AsiaNews.  The Catholic Aid organization has been active in the Pakistani province since September 24 when a devastating earthquake hit the area already brought to its knees by a serious natural disasters and separatist guerrillas . "According to local witnesses - adds the Catholic activist - the distribution of basic necessities is slow . Thousands of people are still waiting for help , living outdoors. And supplies are limited because of the volatile security situation and the difficulties in transportation . "

On 24 September Balochistan province south -west Pakistan was hit by a powerful 7.7 magnitude earthquake at about 20 km underground , north- east of Awaran along the road connecting Quetta to Karachi. Hundreds of houses collapsed . The quake was strong enough to bring out a small island - 100 meters wide and nine high - off the coast , not far from the port of Gwadar . Balochistan is the largest of the Pakistani provinces but , at the same time , the least inhabited because of the roughness of the region, often the scene of earthquakes on the border with Iran, as was the case last April.

Immediately after the earthquake , the leaders of Caritas Pakistan began working to collaborate to rescue the victims. "We approached the government authorities and volunteers in the area - says Amjad Gulzar - to gather information on the damage and loss of life ." A Caritas team , led by the diocesan coordinator for disasters and calamities Nisar Mushtaq - originating in the district of Khuzdar , located next to the district of Awaran epicenter of the quake - reached the area and verified the situation firsthand.

There is a close working relationship with local authorities , confirms the Executive Director of Caritas Pakistan , thanks "to the permission for our presence and active intervention " issued by leaders of the Civil Protection of the Balochistan province . Any information collected is channeled to Caritas Internationalis , to give life to medium-term aid projects that will really help the population. Caritas Pakistan has nurtured excellent relations with the authorities and civilian population, an overwhelming Muslim majority .

"Christians are shocked by the terrible images of the attack on the Protestant church in Peshawar ," which claimed nearly a hundred dead and many injured. A massacre that follows closely after the attack on the minority in Joseph Colony in Lahore. "These two incidents have created a lot of distrust between Pakistani Christians - said Amjad Gulzar - and I fear it will take time before things gets back to normal " - However , he concludes, Caritas Pakistan continues to operate to aid all citizens and is appealing to Catholics around the world and the international community " to sustain us in this work to assist victims of the earthquake in need of assistance ."

The area affected by the earthquake yesterday was the scene of battles between separatist rebels of Baluchistan and Islamabad troops, with rebels targeting symbols of the state, development projects and infrastructure. A military source reported gunfire on a convoy transporting doctors to the earthquake area, but there is no independent confirmation about the attack that caused no injuries. Experts in seismology and volcanology define the area where the earthquake happened yesterday "among the most complex" on earth, because the meeting point of the Indian plate (south- east), Arab plate (south -west) and the Eurasian plate (north ) . The Kirthar fault generated the earthquake.  The fault line is believed to have an extension of 200 km and touches the region (mountainous and mostly desert) of Baluchistan , which in turn overlooks the Indian Ocean.. ( DS )