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Mountain Tsunami Hit Kashmir, Pakistan
By Rizwan Ata

The government on Sunday (October 9) confirmed the death of over 19,000 people after a massive earthquake hit Pakistan and Kashmir on October8 but unofficial estimates put the death toll to over 40,000.

The worst-affected city is Muzzaffarbad, the capital of Pakistani Occupied Kashmir, where 70 percent of the entire housing was destroyed by the earthquake. Bagh in Kashmir, Mansehra in NWFP province and Balakot are also destroyed.

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 earthquake hit five districts in NWFP.
Panic-stricken people and their families have taken refuge in parks and open fields away from their homes. Torrential rain and hailstorm added to the miseries of the affected people.
According to news agencies, 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.

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.”
Help is not reaching the quake hit areas. The government is busy issuing press statements. Nothing concrete has been done.
Labour Party Pakistan in collaboration with its sympathetic organisations have set relief camp in Lahore, soon in other areas, and is dispatching relief teams to Kashmir.

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