ISLAMABAD: Rescuers were Tuesday picking their way through rugged terrain in the search for survivors after a massive quake hit Pakistan and Afghanistan, killing hundreds of people.
The toll was expected to rise as search teams reach remote areas that were cut off by the powerful 7.5 magnitude quake, which triggered landslides and stampedes as it toppled buildings and severed communication lines.
The bulk of the casualties were reported from Pakistan, where 231 people were killed and more than 1,600 injured, the National Disaster Management Authority reported.
According to report, 185 people have been killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 30 in FATA, 9 in Gilgit Baltistan, 5 in Punjab and 2 in Azad Kashmir.
According to PDMA Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 38 people were killed in Shangla district, 28 in Swat, 29 in Chitral, 22 in Lower Dir, 20 in Bajaur, 15 each in Upper Dir and Tor Ghar, 12 in Kohistan, 8 in Buner and 5 in Mohmand Agency.Ten people were killed and thirteen injured in Gilgit-Baltistan and two each killed in Sailkot and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
A police official in Peshawar told AFP they had not been able to get in touch with authorities in the district of Kohistan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to see how its population of nearly half a million people had fared.”There is no way to communicate with the officials in Kohistan, the communication system has been disrupted and roads blocked so we cannot say anything about the damage there,” the official told AFP.
In other remote areas residents — including children and the elderly — were helping with relief work, many of them digging through rubble for survivors.
Pakistan army helicopters began evacuating victims Tuesday to the provincial capital Peshawar and Rawalpindi, which borders Islamabad.
The military has also sent medical teams, tents and rations to affected areas, while India — whose relationship with Islamabad is often prickly — said it stood ready to help.
Many people were trapped under piles of rubble, with officials warning that the toll was set to rise.
For many, Monday s quake brought back traumatic memories of a 7.6 magnitude quake that struck in October 2005, killing more than 75,000 people and displacing some 3.5 million.
Muzaffarabad resident Shehnaz Rasheed, 34, whose daughter was killed in the 2005 disaster, said that as the quake struck she feared “doomsday was being repeated”.
“I ran towards my children s school leaving everything behind — I did not even close the doors of my house and did not care for anything on the road,” she told AFP, explaining she was frantic to reach her two sons so she could “die together with them if we have to die”.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returned to Pakistan Tuesday after a visit to the US and said the government would announce a disaster relief package.
Soon after his arrival in Islamabad, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a high-level emergency meeting to finalize a comprehensive plan to tackle the situation in the wake of the earthquake.
Chairman National Disaster Management Authority Major General Asghar Nawaz updated the Prime Minister about the relief measures taken as quick response to the earthquake.
Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif apprised the meeting about the relief measures taken by Pakistan Army in the earthquake-hit areas. Agencies