1147Quake toll rises to 18,000 in worst-hit Pakistan
- Oct 8, 2005http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051009/india_nm/india218770_2;_ylt=AkSx_WKNT18fxhFZeK1h6dz9xg8F;_ylu=X3oDMTA2ZGZwam4yBHNlYwNmYw--
Quake toll rises to 18,000 in worst-hit Pakistan
By Mian Khursheed 24 minutes ago
MANSEHRA, Pakistan (Reuters) - The death toll from a
huge south Asia earthquake rose to 18,000 in worst-hit
Pakistan alone on Sunday, as rescuers dug out hundreds
of dead children buried under their schools and found
villages reduced to rubble.
Teams laboured with cranes and earth-moving equipment
or used their bare hands in hopes of finding survivors
trapped beneath shattered masonry from Saturday's
Striking out from the forest clad mountains of
Kashmir near the border with India, the quake was the
strongest to hit south Asia in a century.
"When the earthquake came it was like Judgment Day,"
said villager Fazal Elahi, recalling the horror of
houses collapsing around him as he grieved quietly
next to the body of his 14-year-old daughter.
A Pakistani military official said 18,000 were dead,
confirming a figure given to CNN by President Pervez
Musharraf's spokesman, Major-General Shaukat Sultan.
A further 40,000 people were injured in the 7.6
magnitude quake that struck nearly 24 hours ago,
Sultan said, calling it the worst devastation in
"There are many villages that have been wiped off the
face of this earth," Sultan said.
Pakistan's side of Kashmir, the Himalayan region
disputed with India, was expected to be worst hit.
Many areas had not been reached because landslides
triggered by the quake had wiped out roads, Sultan
The U.S. Geological Survey said the tremor occurred at
a depth of 10 km. It struck about 95 km northeast of
Islamabad and was felt across the subcontinent,
shaking buildings in the Afghan, Indian and
The first quake was followed over the next 18 hours by
more than 20 aftershocks with magnitudes of between
4.5 and 6.3.
Some 400 children were killed at two schools in
Pakistan's North West Frontier Province.
Damage in Pakistani Kashmir's main city, Muzaffarabad,
was believed to be severe.
"Indications are that almost 50 percent of the homes
have been destroyed," Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told
BBC World television, referring to Muzaffarabad and
Private Geo TV reported that some of Muzaffarabad's
main buildings, including a military hospital, had
been destroyed, and that injured people were lying in
the courtyard of the one working hospital waiting for
attention from doctors struggling to cope.
A military spokesman said 215 Pakistani soldiers were
killed in the hardest-hit areas.
Indian Kashmir was also battered by the earthquake.
Police said more than 300 people had been killed and
Half of the Indian deaths were in Uri, the last big
town on the road connecting the two sides of the
violence-scarred region. The dead included 15
soldiers, some in bunkers close to a military
Landslides blocked the 300-km (190-mile) road that
connects Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian
Kashmir, to the rest of India to the south. The
Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road linking Indian and
Pakistani Kashmir, reopened to traffic this year for
the first time in nearly 60 years, was also blocked.
Ghulam Rashool, an official at the Pakistan
Meteorological Department, said it was the strongest
earthquake in South Asia since the 1905 Kangra
earthquake that killed 20,000 people in India's Madhya
In the Pakistani capital Islamabad, 82 survivors were
recovered from two multi-storey apartment blocks that
were reduced to rubble. A government official said
rescuers also found 14 bodies, including those of at
least three foreigners, an Egyptian and two Japanese.
Pledges of aid from around the world came within
President George W. Bush said U.S. aid was on the way
and Britain said it was sending search and rescue
experts, sniffer dogs and aid workers.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan sent condolences to
Pakistan, and a U.N. Disaster and Coordination Team in
Geneva was on standby to be deployed. Oxfam and other
aid agencies planned to coordinate their response with
the United Nations.
Turkey, which has suffered major earthquakes in the
past, said it had sent two military planes carrying
aid, doctors and rescue workers. Japan sent a team of
49 aid workers.
In a further sign of easing tension between India and
Pakistan, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to offer
(Additional reporting by Robert Birsel and Suzanna
Koster in Islamabad, Kamil Zaheer in Baramulla, Y.P.
Rajesh in New Delhi)
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