October 09, 2005

Pakistan Quake Tolls More Than 18,000 Dead

(Islamabad, Pakistan) According to officials, it's estimated that more than 18,300 people have died as a result of Saturday's earthquake. Communications have been cut off and landslides have made roads impassable. Current need is for helicopter transportation to carry relief supplies to remote areas.

From CNN.com:

"In certain areas, the entire villages -- they have collapsed. In certain areas, almost entire towns, they have vanished from the scene," Pakistan's military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, told CNN. The country, he said, has launched its largest relief operation.

He estimated at least 18,000 people have died in Pakistan alone, and 41,000 are injured. The majority of those deaths are thought to have occurred in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. Another military spokesman, Brig. Shah Jahan, said relief and rescue workers have yet to access 30 to 40 percent of the affected areas.

CNN can confirm more than 10,000 deaths in Pakistan, most in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. The dead include 230 Pakistani soldiers and 250 school girls whose bodies were recovered from a school at Gari Habi Ullaha between Manshera and Muzaffarabad.

Eyewitnesses report the city of Balakot, in the North-West Frontier province, is destroyed. "It is likely the ground zero," Sultan told CNN.

Also, 250 students died when a school building collapsed 40 miles from Islamabad and the collapse of three school buildings in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir killed an estimated 200 more students. Only one person has been reported killed in Afghanistan, a young girl who died when her house in Jalalabad collapsed.

From Aljazeera.net:

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 completely destroyed. Muzaffarabad is devastated," he added, referring to the capital of Pakistan's sector of disputed Kashmir.

Within 24 hours of the earthquake, the U.S. Geological Survey recorded 22 aftershocks, including one that measured 6.2 on the Richter Scale. An eight-man UN Disaster Coordination team is due to arrive in Islamabad today.

According to a CNN cable broadcast and Xinhua, rescue teams from the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Russia, and the U.S. are due to arrive in hours. Medical relief centers have been set up by the Pakistan military. Confirmed dead in Indian-controlled Kashmir is 355. Frantic efforts are underway to rescue people out of collapsed apartment buildings in Islamabad.

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