QUETTA, Pakistan — A major earthquake struck a remote area in southwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least 39 people as houses collapsed, and possibly pushing up the earth to create a new island off the coast.
The Pakistani military said it was rushing troops and helicopters to Baluchistan province’s Awaran district, where the quake was centered, as well as the nearby area of Khuzdar. Local officials said they were sending food and tents for people who had nowhere to sleep, as strong aftershocks continued to rock the area.
Most people were killed when their houses collapsed before they could rush outside, according to the chief spokesman for the country’s National Disaster Management Authority, Mirza Kamran Zia, who gave the casualty toll.
He said the death toll might rise and said authorities were still trying to get information from officials in the district.
‘‘We all ran out for safety in the open field in front of our house. Many other neighbors were also there. Thank God no one was hurt in our area but the walls of four or five house collapsed,’’ said Khair Mohammed Baluch, who lives in the town of Awaran, roughly 30 miles south of the epicenter.