KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — A moderate earthquake rattled several towns in southern Pakistan before dawn Friday, killing one person and injuring 70, a government official said.
The magnitude 5 quake struck the district of Nawabshah, about 400 kilometers (240 miles) northeast of Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh province, said Roshan Ali Sheikh, the top official at the province's rehabilitation and disaster management department. It hit around 4 a.m. local time (2300 GMT) while many still slept, causing panic, he said.
Pakistani meteorologist Toseef Ahmed said the epicenter of the quake was 27 kilometers (15 miles) north of Nawabshah. The U.S. Geological Survey said the temblor had a preliminary magnitude of 4.3 and struck some 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) north of Nawabshah. Such figures are common just after a quake.
Mohammed Hashim, a doctor at a main government hospital, said dozens of people with head injuries and broken bones were brought to their hospital, and at least five of them were listed in a critical condition.
Sheikh said at least 25 mud-brick homes collapsed in the quake-hit district and authorities still were assessing the damage.
Earlier, local television stations in Pakistan reported that walls came down and people fled their homes with their children.
Witness Shamas Keerio told The Associated Press by telephone that he was sleeping with his family in his home when quake struck.
"I thought as if I am sitting in a boat and it is facing a storm," Keerio said. "The walls of our home started swaying, and I quickly came out along with my family members."
Keerio said his family felt aftershocks as well.
Pakistan is often hit by earthquakes. In September 2013, a 7.7-magnitude quake struck its province of Baluchistan, killing at least 376 people and pushing a new island up in the Arabian Sea.