M A I N   N E W S

300 killed in J&K, Centre gives 100 cr relief
Tribune News Service and Agencies

Srinagar, Jammu, October 8
A powerful earthquake today rocked many parts of North India with the Kashmir valley bearing the brunt where more than 300 persons, including 41 security personnel, were killed and over 700 were injured.

Hundreds of houses and other buildings collapsed or were damaged in the temblor, which was the strongest in over 120 years, and was followed by over a dozen aftershocks.

The quake, measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale and epicentered in Muzaffarabad in Pak-occupied-Kashmir, severely disrupted telecommunication links, power and water supply in the valley and Jammu region.

Border districts of Baramula and Kupwara were the worst hit. While 142 persons died in Baramula, 51 perished in Kupwara. Fortyone security personnel — 37 armymen and four BSF jawans — were buried alive in Uri sector when their bunkers and barracks collapsed. Seven persons were killed in Srinagar, while 17 died in Jammu division — mainly in Poonch and Udhampur.

Official sources said the death toll was continuously mounting as reports have started pouring in from far off places which got cut off from the rest of the valley.

Army and Air Force were helping the local authorities in the massive relief and rescue operations and providing food to the affected people, most of them fasting in the holy month of Ramzan.

Medical camps were set up at various places where the army doctors along with civilians were treating the injured.

The Centre tonight announced an immediate ad hoc assistance of Rs 100 crore for relief and rescue work in Jammu and Kashmir. The decision was taken at an emergency Cabinet meeting in New Delhi chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Information and Broadcasting Minister S. Jaipal Reddy told reporters. The Army has launched a large-scale relief and rescue operation — Operation Imdad — in aid of earthquake victims in Jammu and Kashmir.

Despite casualties to own troops and damage to buildings and other structures, the Army swung into action almost immediately after the quake struck the region.

Joint Control Rooms have been established with civil administration and police at Srinagar, Baramula and Uri, an official release said here.

Poonch town in the Jammu division has been ravaged

As many as 11 persons lost their lives in Doda and Udhampur districts. Many roads have got blocked due to landslides. Reports said many artery roads in Doda district were buried under landslides. Telephone services, electricity and drinking water supply has been disrupted in many areas.

The quake has taken its toll in the towns of Reasi, Ramban, Nagrota, Udhampur, Ramnagar and Gool. Reports from the interior areas of Poonch district, where massive destruction has taken place, were awaited as telephone links have got snapped. Telephone services in other parts of the state were badly affected for several hours as people tried to contact their near and dear ones to know their wellbeing.

There was panic in the educational institutions where the students ran helter-skelter when the first tremors came. Thereafter, more than three massive jerks made the people run out of their houses. Several students were injured in the stampede.

Reports said several landslides occurred in and around the Baglihar and the Salal power projects.

Reports said a 65-year-old woman, Shanti Devi, was killed at Seri Kalan in Nagrota when her house collapsed. Two persons died at Ramnagar and one each at Ramban and Gool.

The historic Moti Mahal, which is occupied by the brigade headquarters in Poonch, collapsed. The fort, in which several government offices are located, was damaged. The government hospital in the town has also suffered damage.

Four students of the government school at Rangpur Millian in the border town of Ranbirsinghpura were injured as the wall of the school collapsed.

Devotees ran out in the open at the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi as the area was hit by a severe quake in the morning. However, there was no untoward incident.

The monumental Old Palace complex here has also suffered extensive damage as many buildings have collapsed or developed cracks. The main shopping centres wore a deserted look throughout the day as people remained in their houses because of fear of subsequent tremors.

Uri and Tanghdar in north Kashmir witnessed the heaviest damage to life and property, while essential services like electricity and water supplies, and telephone services were affected here due to the tremors.

The earthquake that shook the entire region at 9.25 am is regarded as the most intense earthquake since 1885. The twin districts of Baramula and Kupwara in Kashmir valley and Poonch and Udhampur districts of Jammu region have been most affected.

No damage has been caused in Rajouri and Kathua districts of Jammu region and Pulwama district of Kashmir region. The frontier cold desert region of Ladakh has also been unaffected.

Finance, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Muzaffar Hussain Beigh told mediapersons here this afternoon adequate arrangements had been made in all hospitals across the valley and doctors on leave had been called back to duty. The Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who returned here this morning from New Delhi, flew to the most affected areas of Uri and Tanghdar. As an immediate relief measure, at least 200 tents each have been sent to Uri and Tanghdhar to provide shelter to those affected due to the earthquake, the Chief Secretary, Mr Vijay Bakaya, said.

Replying to questions, he said “not much damage” was caused to the Uri power project. However, an official spokesman earlier stated that “colossal damage” was caused to the dam. There were reports of collapse of some police, government and private buildings. One of the TV transmission towers at Suleiman complex has also been damaged.

The Air Force and Army were assisting the civil administration at several places in the relief and rescue measures.


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