Monday, October 10, 2005 Posted: 1225 GMT (2025 HKT)

【ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- The death toll has soared to 30,800 in the aftermath

of the worst earthquake to hit Pakistan, as nations around the world try to get aid

to the northern parts of the devastated country and to Kashmir.】



Pakistan says it has been overwhelmed by the disaster, but the international

community is beginning to come through after President Gen. Pervez Musharraf

pleaded for helicopters to get relief supplies to people in remote and mountainous

towns and villages.


The 7.6-magnitude quake on Saturday morning was felt across South Asia, from central

Afghanistan to western Bangladesh, shaking three nations and bringing down a large

apartment building in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.



About 43,000 people were injured in the quake, Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz

told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" on Sunday.


Regarding the casualty figures, he said: "They will certainly go up."

At midday Monday, an incomplete count from Pakistan, including Pakistan-controlled

Kashmir, put the number of dead at 30,000, government, police and hospital officials

said.


Pakistani Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao said at least 17,000 people had died in

Pakistani-controlled Kashmir alone.



Although the majority of Indian-controlled Kashmir was spared the devastation, it is

estimated that 80 percent of the border town of Udi, India, was destroyed.

So far 799 people have died in Indian-controlled Kashmir, with one death in

Afghanistan, officials say.



The epicenter of the quake was in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered

Kashmir, which sits in the Himalayan foothills 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast

of Islamabad. (Full story)



The Pakistani army hospital in Muzaffarabad suffered heavy damage, and mass burials

were being held on Monday.


Also badly hit was Pakistan's North-West Frontier province, where many villages

were completely leveled and roads destroyed, making travel all but impossible.

"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.


CNN's Matthew Chance, reporting Monday from said the city of Balakot, in the

North-West Frontier province, described a "scene of utter devastation," saying

nearly every building in the tourist town of 250,000, had been destroyed.

(Eyewitness accounts)


People picked through the rubble with pick axes and their bare hands, looking

for family and friends, Chance said, adding there were only four doctors to

serve the thousands of injured.



Relief and rescue workers have yet to reach 30 to 40 percent of the affected

areas, said military spokesman, Brig. Shah Jahan.


In a report from The Associated Press, the United Nations warned that

more than 2.5 million people are in need of shelter following the earthquake.


***'Bear with us'***


Unknown numbers of Pakistanis are sleeping in the open in near freezing

temperatures at night and they've lost everything. Across wide areas there is

no power, or adequate food or water.


Stunned Pakistanis have camped out in the streets overnight, fearful of

returning home because of aftershocks, one of which measured 6.2 in magnitude.


Some slept in their cars, while others gathered in outdoor areas such as

soccer fields.


Many survivors have been critical of the government's relief operation. They say

thousands still need help, and with only a trickle of aid, angry Kashmiris were

blocking roads and demanding relief.


Meeting with emotionally charged victims Gen. Pervez Musharraf has appealed for

patience and calm.

"For heaven's sake bear with us. There are certain limitations. We are trying

our best,'' he said.

Government officials are focusing on getting help to dig survivors from the rubble,

take them to hospitals and begin repairing the region's shattered infrastructure.


Prime minister Aziz has appealed to the international community to send heavy-lift

helicopters as well as tents, blankets, medicine and "hundreds of millions of

dollars."


***Nations come forward***


Planes packed with supplies are arriving, while rescue teams are being dispatched

to help those who have been left injured, homeless or stranded.


Late Sunday, the White House announced the United States would provide initial

aid of up to $50 million for reconstruction and relief efforts in Pakistan.



U.S. President George W. Bush has become an ally of Pakistan, using the nation's

help since the September 11 attacks on America, and he was quick to come forward

with help.


The United States is flying over five CH-47 Chinook helicopters and three UH-60

Blackhawk helicopters from Afghanistan, the Central Command said in a written

statement.



British Prime Minister Tony Blair said ties to Pakistan "are made even closer

by the large population of British citizens who trace their origin to the

Kashmir region. Such ties make the growing number of casualties even harder

to bear."



A second emergency team from Britain arrived Sunday in Islamabad, the Foreign

Office said, bringing fire brigades and search dogs.


European Union Commissioner Louis Michel said he was sending $4.4 million in

emergency relief aid to the stricken region.


The United Nations has been coordinating relief efforts from the

international airport in Islamabad, said Jan Egeland, U.N.

undersecretary for humanitarian affairs.


A U.N. team arrived there at dawn Sunday, he said, and the operation was

"growing by the hour."


But the need is staggering, Egeland added, with the number of homeless

rivaling those left without shelter after last year's tsunami in South

Asia.


"There will be need for hundreds of thousands of tents and emergency

shelter for all the people who have lost everything," he said.



*** Still a military zone ***


From Indian-controlled Kashmir, Time South Asia Bureau Chief Alex Perry

said despite the widespread damage and pressing humanitarian needs,

security concerns remained paramount, he said.

"There's no doubt at all that it's still a military zone," he said,

adding that checkpoints were holding up the passage of aid to the

region.


"There is an immediate fear that this might be an opportunity for militants

to start pouring over the border from Pakistan into Kashmir," he said.

But political tensions between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region

appeared to take a back seat as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called

Musharraf and offered help.


"We have offered all possible assistance for rescue and relief measures,"

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna told CNN from New Delhi.

"We see this as a major humanitarian disaster for the people of this region."


Musharraf said he thanked the Indian leader for the offer. "Whatever we need,

we will certainly ask," he said, though he noted that there is "a little bit

of sensitivity there."


The two nations have fought three wars -- two of them over Kashmir -- since

independence from British rule in 1947.



(-- Senior International Correspondents Satinder Bindra and Matthew Chance,

Correspondent Ram Ramgopal, Producers Syed Mohsin Naqvi and John Raedler

and journalists Mukhtar Ahmed in Srinagar and Tom Coghlan in Kabul

contributed to this report.)





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