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
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
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.