Pakistan broadens quake rescue efforts

2015-10-27 16:18
An injured boy rests at a local hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan. (Mohammad Sajjad, AP)

An injured boy rests at a local hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan. (Mohammad Sajjad, AP)

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Islamabad - Pakistani military planes reached survivors in remote mountains 24 hours after a powerful earthquake struck the region, but thousands were still feared trapped in inaccessible areas, officials said on Tuesday.

The military took food and medicines to Chitral district and brought out injured people to the capital Islamabad in the first rescue mission since Monday's disaster, a statement said.   

The death toll in Pakistan has reached 275, according to Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed.

Most deaths in Pakistan were reported from the mountainous region of Malakand in the northern region near the Afghan border, Rasheed said.

Nearly 80 people were killed in eastern Afghanistan by the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that jolted large areas from Tajikistan to New Delhi in India.

At least four people were killed in India's Himalayan valleys near China and Pakistan, officials in New Delhi said.

More military helicopters and planes would fly to inaccessible areas on Tuesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said in Malakand, where he supervised rescue efforts.

The national roads authority deployed heavy machinery to open a main highway linking Pakistan with neighbouring China, director Mushtaq Tarar said.

Other roads damaged by landslides were also being repaired to let rescuers reach survivors, Tarar said.

More than 2 000 injured people were being treated at hospitals in the northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, provincial government adviser Mushtaq Ghani said.

Nearly 2 500 houses have been damaged in the province alone, said Ghani, adding that tribal regions near the Afghan border were also hit hard.

Most of the affected people in the northwestern town of Dir spent the chilly night in the open, waiting for help to arrive.

"Our houses are destroyed. We are with children and without shelter," said Zaman Khan, from Chakdara village. "Somebody should come and help us."

In Afghanistan, authorities were also struggling to reach survivors in the remote region partially controlled by the insurgent Taliban, Badakhshan provincial council member Mawlawi Hamidullah Muslim said.

The Afghan Taliban asked humanitarian agencies to deliver emergency supplies to victims in remote areas. 

The group "calls on our good-willed countrymen and charitable organisations to not hold back in providing shelter, food and medical supplies to the victims of this earthquake", it said.

In Pakistan, as well, some of the charities linked with jihadist groups were the first ones from outside to reach victims in remote mountainous regions, local residents in Dir district told dpa. 

Read more on:    taliban  |  pakistan  |  afghanistan  |  earthquakes

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