ISLAMABAD, Sept. 27 -- (Kyodo) -- The death toll from a powerful earthquake that rocked southwestern Pakistan on Tuesday has risen to more than 500 as rescuers face attacks from local militants, hampering the government relief operation, officials said Friday.
Balochistan's Chief Secretary Babar Yaqub Feteh Mohammad said the death toll stood at 515 on Friday, up from 356 the day before.
A government helicopter carrying relief goods to earthquake victims was fired at by separatists in Mushke on Friday morning, but there was no damage or loss of life, Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa said.
Asim also told reporters that separatists also fired small arms at ground troops in the Mushke area, but caused no loss of life.
On Thursday, separatist militants fired two shoulder-fired missiles at a helicopter carrying two generals of the Pakistan Army supervising relief work in the same area. Both generals escaped injury.
The Defense Ministry spokesman said the attacks were hampering relief work in the earthquake-affected areas.
The magnitude 7.7 earthquake shattered 21,000 houses in the sparsely populated province, leaving hundreds of thousands of people homeless, government officials said.
(c) 2013 Kyodo News International, Inc.
Original headline: Death toll from Pakistan quake tops 500
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