Sunday, October 09, 2005

Pakistan earthquake toll hits 30,000

The estimated toll of the South Asian earthquake on Saturday has hit 30,000, Pakistan-administered Kashmir's works and communication minister says.

"Our rough estimates say more than 30,000 people have died in the earthquake in Kashmir," minister Tariq Farooq said on Sunday.

"There are cities, there are towns which have been completelydestroyed. Muzaffarabad is devastated," he added, referring to the capital of Pakistan's sector of disputed Kashmir.

Pakistan's private Aaj television reported the toll in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and northwest Pakistan to be more than 25,000. It did not cite a source. Officials have said the toll will rise. Bodies lay in the streets and villagers pulled debris from collapsed schools and mud-brick homes with their bare hands on Sunday, desperate to find survivors from the 7.6-magnitude quake that struck Pakistan and India. The quake that struck the mountainous Kashmir region flattened dozens of villages, killing farmers, homemakers, soldiers and schoolgirls, and triggered landslides that blocked rescuers from reaching many devastated areas.

Pakistan hardest hit:

The severest destruction was in Pakistan, where chief military spokesman Major-General Shaukat Sultan said more than 18,020 people died - 17,155 of them in Pakistani Kashmir where the quake was centred. Some 41,000 people were injured, he added.

On Sunday, Pakistani military helicopters ferried troops and supplies to some areas, but there was no sign of government help in Balakot, a northern village of 30,000 where the quake levelled the main bazaar, crushing shoppers.

No help:

Injured people covered by shawls lay in the street, waiting for medical care. Residents carried bodies on wooden planks. The bodies of four children, aged between four and six years old, lay under a sheet of corrugated iron. Relatives said they were trying to find sheets to wrap the bodies. Farooq said that he could hear children under the rubble crying for help immediately after the disaster. He estimated that more than 500 students had been killed.

India reported at least 360 people killed and 900 injured when the quake collapsed houses and other buildings in Jammu-Kashmir state. Most of the deaths occurred in the border towns of Uri, Tangdar and Punch and in the city of Srinagar, said B B Vyas, the state's divisional commissioner. Read More ....

Source: AlJazeera
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