Major earthquake hits Pakistan early Wednesday morning

Wednesday's earthquake in southwest Pakistan is of a magnitude similar to a deadly 2005 temblor in northwest Pakistan. The earthquake was also felt in neighboring countries.

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A major 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked a remote area of southwestern Pakistan early Wednesday, shaking many parts of the country and causing widespread panic, said meteorologists.

The quake was centered in Baluchistan province, the country's most sparsely populated area, said the United States Geological Service. It occured at a depth of some 50 miles (84 kilometers), it said.

Its exact epicenter was in a remote area some 200 miles (320 kilometers) southwest of the Baluchistan capital of Quetta, said chief Pakistani meteorologist Arif Mahmood.

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Local TV reports said the quake was felt throughout several provinces. Many residents in the country's largest city, Karachi, ran out into the streets once the quake started, said the reports.

There were no immediate reports of damage, said Mahmood, the meteorologist. But quakes of this strength can cause widespread destruction.

Tremors lasting at least 20 seconds were also felt as far away as Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and in India's capital, New Delhi.

Earthquakes often rattle the region. A magnitude 7.6 quake on Oct. 8, 2005, killed about 80,000 people in northwestern Pakistan and Kashmir and left more than 3 million homeless.

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