Accessibility links

Rescue Efforts Under Way in Quake-Struck Kashmir


Rescue efforts in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan are under way in the wake of a 7.6 magnitude earthquake. More than 1,000 deaths have been reported, most of them in hard-hit Pakistan. At least 200 were reported killed in Indian Kashmir.

Traumatized men and women described how they fled some of the worst-hit areas in Indian Kashmir, as they watched their homes cave in when the massive quake devastated the region.

The tremors of the quake were felt across most of North India, but much of the damage is concentrated in remote mountain villages and towns in Kashmir, the region that lay closest to the epicenter of the quake, in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.

Landslides triggered by the quake compounded the damage. Late into the night, soldiers and civilians raced to pull people out of the rubble of thousands of homes, set up medical camps, ferry the injured to hospitals, and clear blocked highways.

The army, posted in large numbers in Kashmir to battle a Muslim separatist insurgency, is spearheading the rescue and relief operations, along with hundreds of volunteers.

But soldiers were also among the victims. At least 20 soldiers died when their bunkers along the border were buried under landslides.

Hours after the quake struck, Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mangat Ram Sharma, described a scene of devastation.

"Many people have suffered - they are under treatment, they have suffered injuries, and they are in hospitals, and some are going to be taken to hospitals, and their number is in hundreds," he said.

Authorities expressed fears that the death toll could climb as they access more remote areas, after communication links are restored. Officials say they are trying to restore essential supplies like electricity and water disrupted by the quake.

Tents were flown in to some areas, but for many survivors it was a long night, as many people who lost their homes or those who were worried about aftershocks stayed out in open fields.

But the quake provided an opportunity to old rivals India and Pakistan to reach out to each other, as both struggled to cope with the disaster across a region they have fought over for decades.

In a message to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offered to help Pakistan in the hour of need.

The quake struck close to the dividing line between the Indian- and Pakistani-controlled areas in disputed Kashmir.

XS
SM
MD
LG