Pakistan, Afghanistan reach quake survivors

2015-10-28 16:28
Villagers collect their belongings under the rubble of their homes destroyed from an earthquake in Shangla in Swat valley, Pakistan. (Naveed Ali, AP)

Villagers collect their belongings under the rubble of their homes destroyed from an earthquake in Shangla in Swat valley, Pakistan. (Naveed Ali, AP)

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Islamabad - Pakistani rescue teams bringing food and medicine reached most communities in rugged terrain hit by a major earthquake, while on the other side of the border Afghan authorities and aid agencies assisted survivors, officials said on Wednesday.

A 7.5-magnitude quake jolted the South Asian region from Tajikistan to New Delhi in India on Monday, killing more than 400 people, mainly in Pakistan.

It took rescuers more than 40 hours to reach survivors as landslides triggered by the tremor blocked roads in some areas, officials in the Pakistani capital Islamabad said.

"Almost all roads have been made passable now," said General Hidayatur Rehman, military commander for the worst-hit region in the north-west near the Afghan border. "We will try to reach all survivors [on Wednesday]."

The disaster management authority in the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa said its teams had reached Chitral district that touches the Afghan border.

"We are still trying to assess the exact number of deaths and damage to houses," the authority's spokesperson Reema Zuberi said.

More than 300 people were confirmed dead in Pakistan by late on Tuesday evening but the figure could rise, authorities said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would visit the worst-hit areas again on Wednesday to oversee relief efforts, his office said. 

In Afghanistan, survey teams were working around the clock, however, direct assistance to the survivors started more than forty-eight hours after the quake.

Helicopters

"Our survey teams have been busy since the quake, so far we have helped 142 families with basic necessities," said Wahidullah Kalimzai, the governor for eastern Afghanistan's Kunar province.

The basic necessities include tents, blankets and food items, said Kalimzai.

"All aid provided to families have been from our stock and the national or international aid agencies available in Kunar," Kalamzai said.

Rescue teams and aid are being flown in by helicopters and wounded survivors are being flown out, said Gul Ahmad Bedar, Deputy governor of Badakhshan province, the epicentre of Monday's quake.

"We are doing everything we can to assist the survivors, in conjunction with aid agencies that are available in the province," said Bedar.

In the northern Takhar province, around 100 families have been given first aid and necessary items, said Sunnatullah Timur, a spokesperson for Takhar province.

With winter approaching in Afghanistan's Hindu Kush mountains, many survivors whose homes were destroyed are struggling to keep warm.

Read more on:    nawaz sharif  |  afghanistan  |  pakistan  |  earthquakes

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