M A I N   N E W S

Quake rocks subcontinent
Over 1,700 die in Pak

Islamabad, October 8
A major earthquake shook cities and villages across the South Asian subcontinent today, wiping out several villages in Pakistan and leading to fears that the death toll could run into thousands.

About 400 Pakistani schoolchildren were killed in northwestern Pakistan when two schools collapsed, the police said.

“Three-hundred-and-fifty schoolchildren have been killed in a school in Mansehra district and 50 were killed in another school in the same district,” said provincial police chief Riffat Pashar.

Officials said over 1000 people were killed in the worst-hit Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, while 700 lost their lives in Islamabad and North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

“The deaths could be running in thousands. We do not have an exact figure for casualties at this moment, but it is massive,” President Pervez Musharraf’s spokesman, Major-Gen Shaukat Sultan, told Reuters following an aerial survey of the stricken areas.

The earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.6, struck at 0920 IST and was centred in forest-clad mountains of Pakistani Kashmir, near the Indian border, about 95 km northeast of Islamabad.

The first quake was followed by a series of frightening aftershocks between magnitudes of 5.4 and 6.3 — the last also the biggest at 1615 IST. The tremors were felt across the subcontinent and shook buildings in Kabul, New Delhi and Dhaka. More than 100 persons were killed in one district of the NWFP alone.

Damage was also heavy in Muzaffarabad, Capital of Pakistani Kashmir, residents said.

President Musharraf visited the spots in Islamabad where scores of people were feared killed or trapped in two apartment blocks that were reduced to rubble.

According to another report heavy casualties were feared in the capital as two blocks of an upmarket 19-storeyed building ‘Margala Towers’ apartment building collapsed like a pack of cards in the earthquake that measured 7.5 on the Richter scale and struck at 0850 am local time.

Meanwhile, several parts of the country, including Islamabad, tonight experienced heavy ice rain.

The ice rain badly affected the efforts to rescue nearly 200 people trapped under the debris of the multi-storey Margala Towers here.

At least 200 Pakistani soldiers were killed in the hardest-hit areas of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Reports here said some 250 persons had died and thousands were injured in Muzaffarabad. Those killed included Chaudhary Asram, a minister of the provincial government there, and a judge.

In the NWFP, nine persons were killed in the Mansehra area after some houses collapsed following the quake, media reports here said, adding one child was killed and six injured in a wall collapse of a school building in Rawalpindi.

Several casualties are also feared in the collapse of a number of shops in the busy Shah Almi market in Lahore. The earthquake also disrupted the communication system in Pakistan. — PTI, Reuters



PM offers help to Pak
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 8
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf late tonight, conveying his government’s sympathies for the people of Pakistan, affected by the earthquake, which has caused damage to property and of loss of life.

In the hour of a major natural calamity, Dr Singh offered all necessary assistance for providing immediate relief and assistance to the people in Pakistan. Simultaneously, the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad and his counterpart in New Delhi have been asked to remain in constant touch with the two governments to facilitate further relief and other measures that might be required immediately.

Dr Singh spoke to Gen Musharaff after the emergency meeting of the Union Cabinet here late tonight, held to gear up the relief and other measures in the wake of the earthquake, which had affected severely affected the frontier areas of Jammu and Kashmir.

The impact of the earthquake was felt in the National Capital and other parts of Northern India.





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