QUETTA, Pakistan — Thousands of people are homeless and desperate for aid in southwestern Pakistan following a deadly earthquake centered in neighboring Iran that toppled scores of mud brick homes and killed at least 36 people, officials said Wednesday.
The Pakistani army has deployed several hundred soldiers to help the relief effort in Mashkel, the area of Baluchistan Province hit hardest by Tuesday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake. But many residents in Mashkel, where nearly all homes were destroyed, said they were unhappy with the government’s response.
‘‘I appeal to the government,’’ Syed Mureed Shah, one of the top officials in surrounding Washak district, said Thursday. “I appeal to the international community to help us with food, medicine, tents, and blankets. Come and see with your own eyes the damage caused by the earthquake.’’
At least 35 people were killed and 150 injured in Pakistan, according to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority. Iran’s main state TV channel said Wednesday that only one person was killed in Iran, and that 12 were injured.
Iran’s state-run television network initially reported a much higher death toll, saying 40 people had been killed, but later backed away from that figure. The discrepancies and apparent backtracking in the reports could not be immediately reconciled because the affected areas are remote and difficult to reach.
An estimated 700 houses were reported damaged in Mashkel in Pakistan, and more remote areas were being assessed, the disaster management agency said.
But Shah, the Washuk district official, said the damage was more widespread. He said more than 3,000 homes were destroyed in the district, leaving about 19,000 people without shelter. He said he has received only about 60 tents from the provincial government.
People in Mashkel sat under makeshift shelters or sought shade under palm trees amid the rubble of their mud brick houses Wednesday. A dead horse lay amid the debris of one house. An air conditioning unit stuck out of rubble from another.
Several children lying on beds in a makeshift clinic received medicine or fluids intravenously.
More than 300 Pakistani soldiers, including doctors and engineers, were helping with the relief effort by distributing food, medicine, and blankets, the army said. They also set up a field hospital to provide medical aid. Five army helicopters were participating in the operation.
The helicopters flew 15 critically injured people to Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan Province, for treatment, the disaster management agency said. Five more critically injured people are awaiting evacuation from Mashkel and are expected to be evacuated Wednesday, the agency said.
The provision of additional supplies was hampered Wednesday by a sand storm that prevented helicopters from landing in Mashkel, the agency said.