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Quake Aid Increasing, Much More Needed


Heavy rains forced Pakistani authorities to temporarily suspend helicopter relief operations to areas north of Islamabad that were hit hard by the recent earthquake. Helicopters are ferrying supplies to towns and villages that are inaccessible by roads because of landslides triggered by the 7.6 magnitude quake.

Pakistan's interior minister said at least 33,000 people have died. Officials in the Indian-controlled section of divided Kashmir say the death toll there has surpassed 1300.

In the northwest Pakistani town of Balakot, children pulled from the rubble of three collapsed school buildings are being treated at a field hospital. One doctor told reporters his staff is badly in need of more supplies.

Thousands of people, now homeless, are leaving the area. Others have stayed behind, salvaging whatever they can from the rubble, and in some cases, seeking divine intervention among the ruins.

Hundreds of families in the divided region of Kashmir are grieving for the loss of relatives on both sides of the line of control. Recent peace initiatives between longtime rivals India and Pakistan -- including a bus service linking the two sections of Kashmir -- had re-united many families after decades.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described the earthquake as a national calamity, saying the government will spare no expense in helping the survivors. Mister Singh announced $111 million (U.S.) in assistance, in addition to the $26 million already pledged by his government.

International rescue teams, including Spanish and Russian units using sniffer dogs, are being deployed to help local workers extricate survivors from the rubble. The search continues at the remains of a 10-story apartment building in Islamabad, after teams rescued a woman and a child.

Aid in the form of food and clothing from various countries continues to arrive at air bases in Pakistan. In Rawalpindi, U.S. aid was loaded onto helicopters to be distributed to victims in the hardest-hit areas.

Those distributing the aid to some villages are dealing with looting and other problems. Before it even reached its destination, one of ten trucks driven by Pakistani charity workers was stopped and looted by villagers on the outskirts of the city of Muzaffarabad.

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