Da The Daily Times del 10/10/2005
Originale su http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_10-10-2005_pg1_1

Earthquake death toll crosses 40,000

* Balakot razed to the ground
* 11,000 dead in Muzaffarabad
* 30,000 dead in Kashmir, says minister
* Death toll in Held Kashmir reaches 689
* NWFP death toll may reach 7,500: Haq
* 850 schoolchildren trapped under rubble in NWFP

di Shahzad Raza

ISLAMABAD: The government on Sunday confirmed the death of over 19,000 people after a massive earthquake hit Pakistan a day earlier, but unofficial estimates put the death toll to over 40,000.

The worst-affected city was Muzzaffarbad, the capital of Kashmir, where 70 percent of the entire housing was destroyed by the earthquake. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told a press conference that the worst-hit areas were Muzaffarabad, Bagh, Mansehra and Balakot.

Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao told journalists after an emergency cabinet meeting that 11,000 people had died in Muzzaffarbad alone. “We are facing the worst-ever earthquake,” he said. “This is a test for the whole nation.” Sherpao put the death toll to 19,136 - 17,388 of them in Kashmir – and said that 42,397 were injured.

In NWFP, 1,760 people had been killed and 1,797 injured, he said, while 11 had died and 83 were injured in Punjab. In the Northern Areas bordering China and Kashmir a further two people were killed and two injured, the interior minister said.

The interior minister said that 114 army personnel had lost their lives in Kashmir, while more than 200 had received injuries. At least 500 school children were killed in Muzaffarabad when the roofs of their classrooms collapsed.

The earthquake hit five districts in NWFP. “The death toll has reached 2,000 in the NWFP,” Inspector General of Police Riffat Pasha told Daily Times from Mansehra, the most devastated district in the province. By Saturday evening, the death toll was over 1,000 and NWFP Minister Sirajul Haq feared that it could reach 7,500 as “thousands of bodies are still under the debris”.

Pasha said that the rehabilitation of the affected people will take months. “The infrastructure has been badly damaged and the overall rehabilitation will need massive financial help,” he said.

Balakot, the tehsil headquarters of district Mansehra, has been completely razed to the ground and thousands of people are still buried under the debris.

Panic-stricken people and their families in Hazara have taken refuge in parks and open fields away from their homes. Torrential rain and hailstorm added to the miseries of the affected people.

In the Battagram district, wounded people were getting little medical treatment, since the only hospital had collapsed, a police official said.

Haq said that more than 25,000 tents were needed. “We have so far arranged 3,000 tents and the lack of tents is a great worry for us,” he told Daily Times.

NWFP Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani launched an appeal for international assistance to help the affected people in the province.

The Mansehra District Headquarters Hospital was packed with people injured from the quake, many of whom were put in tents.

In Garhi Habibullah, 200 bodies including 60 girl students of the Government Higher Secondary School have been recovered from the wreckage.

Agencies add: Among the countless tragic sights, perhaps the most pitiful was that of hundreds of parents using picks, shovels and their bare hands in a desperate attempt to reach 850 children trapped in the rubble of two schools in NWFP. The frightened voices of trapped children and the anguished wails of parents accompanied the frantic work in the Balakot valley.

“Save me, call my mother,” came the faint voice of a boy from the rubble of a government school in which residents said about 200 children were trapped.

More than 30,000 people, many of them students, died in Kashmir, said Tariq Farooq, communications minister for the region. “I have been informed by my department that more than 30,000 people have died in Kashmir,” he said. “Out of a population of 2.4 million, more than half is affected,” the communications minister said, apparently referring to those displaced, injured or killed. He said that 6,000 to 7,000 people were estimated to have died in Bagh and adjoining areas. “There are no survivors in villages like Jaglari, Kufalgarh, Harigal and Baniyali in the Bagh district,” Farooq said. “People have been devoured by death.”

He said that the death toll was likely to rise. “It’s a hilly area. They have not yet accessed villages in the mountains and the toll could rise up to 30,000,” said Farooq.

Fatalities included 215 army soldiers, with more than 400 injured, mostly in Kashmir.

Authorities in India reported that 689 people had died and more than 900 injured, while Afghanistan reported at least four deaths. “Information is now coming in from far off areas,” one official said from the frontier Kupwara town. “We have recovered 258 bodies so far, and 100 are wounded in the Karnah town.”

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