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Quake hits remote part of Pakistan

A major 7.2-magnitude earthquake rocked a remote area of southwestern Pakistan early today, shaking many parts of the country and causing tremors as far away as India and the United Arab Emirates.

The earthquake was centered in Baluchistan province, the country's most sparsely populated area, said the United States Geological Service, occurring at 1:30 a.m. local time at a depth of about 50 miles.

Its epicenter was in a remote area about 200 miles southwest of the Baluchistan capital of Quetta, not far from the Afghan border, said Arif Mahmood, Pakistan's chief meteorologist.

Dalbandin, the closest town to the epicenter, has a population of around 15,000 people and is so remote that the nearby Chagai hills were the site of Pakistan's 1998 nuclear tests.

No reports had been received on damage in Dalbandin.

No major damage was reported in Quetta, but the earthquake caused widespread panic in the city, residents said.

Many residents in Karachi, the country's largest city, ran out into the streets once the quake started, local TV reports said.

Mohammad Zubair, a 28-year-old Karachi resident, said he was watching a cricket match on television when his bed began to shake.

"I jumped out of bed realizing it was an earthquake," he said. "My mom started reciting verses from the Quran, and we rushed outside."

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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