*NEWS*STRONG EARTHQUAKE ROCKS SOUTH ASIA

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*NEWS*STRONG EARTHQUAKE ROCKS SOUTH ASIA

 user 2005-10-08 at 4:19:00 pm Views: 93
  • #13139

    Strong 7.6-Magnitude Earthquake Rocks Southern Asia
    Hundreds Killed in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India
    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Oct. 8/05) – A powerful 7.6-magnitude earthquake
    near the Pakistan-India border Saturday reduced villages to rubble,
    triggered landslides and flattened an apartment building, killing
    hundreds of people in both nations. Pakistan’s army called the
    devastation “a national tragedy.”
    In the capitals of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, buildings shook and
    walls swayed for about a minute, and panicked people ran from their
    homes and offices. Tremors continued for hours afterward.
    Communications throughout the region were cut.
    Pakistan’s Geo television quoted chief army spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat
    Sultan as saying 1,000 people were feared dead. Army officials who flew
    over quake-hit areas reported seeing hundreds of flattened homes in
    villages north of the capital, Islamabad.
    “The damage and casualties could be massive and it is a national
    tragedy,” Sultan told The Associated Press. “This is the worst
    earthquake in recent times.”
    The U.S. Geological Survey said on its Web site the quake hit at 8:50
    a.m. local time and had a magnitude of 7.6. It was centered about 60
    miles northeast of Islamabad in the forested mountains of Pakistani
    Kashmir.
    Damage was extensive in Kashmir, the disputed Himalayan territory
    divided between India and Pakistan. Officials in the Indian-controlled
    portion reported at least 190 people killed, including 20 soldiers who
    perished in a landslide. At least 800 people were injured and about
    2,700 homes were destroyed or damaged across Jammu-Kashmir, said senior
    state official B.B. Vyas.
    Army soldiers and local volunteers were rescuing people from under the
    debris of collapsed houses. Telephone lines were down. Bridges had
    developed cracks, but traffic was passing over them.
    The USGS reported at least five aftershocks in Pakistan, with the
    strongest measuring magnitude 6.3 and located about 70 miles north of
    Islamabad.
    Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat
    Aziz ordered the military to extend “all-out help” to quake-hit areas
    and appealed to the nation to stay calm. Helicopters took troops to
    damaged areas, but landslides were hindering rescue efforts.
    Musharraf, walking through the rubble in Islamabad, said the air force
    was deploying C-130 transport planes and 10 helicopters to devastated
    areas.
    At least 500 people were killed and 1,700 injured in four districts in
    northwestern Pakistan, said provincial police chief Rifat Pasha. He
    said the toll could rise because rescue teams were still working in
    areas hit hard by the temblor.
    In eastern Afghanistan, an 11-year-old girl was crushed to death when a
    wall in her home collapsed, said police official Gafar Khan.
    U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry O’Hara said the quake was felt
    at Bagram, the main American base in Afghanistan, but he had no reports
    of damage at bases around the country.
    The quake brought down a 10-story apartment building in Islamabad and
    dozens of people were feared trapped in the rubble. Rescuers pulled out
    at least 20 injured people. Some residents were Westerners, a building
    employee said.
    A man named Rehmatullah who lived nearby said he saw dust from the buckled building from his bathroom window.
    “I rushed down, and for some time you could not see anything because of
    the dust. Then we began to look for people in the rubble,” he said. “We
    pulled out one man by cutting off his legs.”
    “It was like hell,” said Nauman Ali, who lived in a nearby top-floor
    apartment. “It was terrible. I was tossed up in my bed and the ceiling
    fan struck against the roof.”
    Aided by two large cranes, hundreds of police and soldiers helped
    remove chunks of concrete, one of which was splattered with blood. One
    rescue worker said he heard faint cries from people trapped in the
    rubble.
    In Abbotabad, north of Islamabad, dozens of quake victims and other
    patients, some hooked up to intravenous drips, lay on the lawn of the
    city hospital after officials said aftershocks made it unsafe to stay
    inside. Hospital staff used loudspeakers to ask the public for food and
    other relief supplies.
    One of the injured was 8-year-old Qadeer, whose father, a farmer named
    Jehangir, said the only buildings left standing in their village were a
    mosque and a school. Qadeer lay unconscious, his right leg heavily
    bandaged.
    Sultan said the worst-hit areas were in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir,
    including Muzaffarabad, the regional capital, and the towns of Bagh and
    Rawalakot. The districts of Batagram, Balakot, Mansehra, Abbottabad and
    Patan in northwestern Pakistan also suffered serious damage, he said.
    Dozens of homes, schools, mosques and government offices were damaged, and hundreds of injured people were taken to hospitals.
    In India’s portion of Kashmir, two main highways were closed because of
    landslides triggered by the quake, and relief material was being flown
    to some areas, said Vijay Bakaya, Jammu-Kashmir state’s chief secretary.
    At least 400 tents were flown by helicopter to Uri and Tangdar to
    provide temporary shelter in the freezing Himalayan foothills,
    officials said. Teams of doctors and Red Cross volunteers were
    traveling by road and on foot to remote mountainous areas, Bakaya said.
    All hospitals in the state have been put on alert and medical staff recalled, he said.
    Power has been restored to hospitals, but telephone, water and
    electricity supplies were still disrupted across much of the state.
    “Our first priority is to help affected families, deliver relief and
    assess the loss so that further help can be provided,” said Bakaya.
    The temblor also was felt near India’s capital.
    “It was so strong that I saw buildings swaying. It was terrifying,”
    said Hari Singh, a guard in an apartment complex in a suburb of New
    Delhi. Hundreds of residents raced down from their apartments after
    their furniture started shaking.
    The quake also jolted parts of Bangladesh, but no casualties or damage were reported there.