(this is fucking terrible…much worse than Katrina…Jesus Christ on a fukn crutch…does anyone know how to help? cd)
Quake toll rises to 18,000 in worst-hit Pakistan – Yahoo! News
MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan (Reuters) – The death toll from a huge south Asia earthquake rose to 18,000 in worst-hit Pakistan alone on Sunday, as rescuers dug out hundreds of dead children buried under schools and found towns and villages reduced to rubble.
Teams labored with cranes and earth-moving equipment or used their bare hands in a desperate search for survivors trapped beneath the rubble from Saturday’s quake.
Striking out from the forest clad mountains of Pakistani
Kashmir near the border with India, the quake was the strongest to hit south Asia in a century.
“It’s total devastation. It looks like the city of death,” said Reuters reporter Zulfiqar Ali, who was in the capital Islamabad when the earthquake struck but managed to get back to his home town of Muzaffarabad, in Pakistani Kashmir, on Sunday.
A Pakistani military official said 18,000 were dead, confirming a figure given to CNN by President Pervez Musharraf’s spokesman, Major-General Shaukat Sultan.
A further 40,000 people were injured in the 7.6 magnitude quake that struck at about 8:50 a.m. (0350 GMT) on Saturday, Sultan said, calling it the worst devastation in Pakistan’s history.
“There are many villages that have been wiped off the face of this earth,” Sultan said. Many areas had not been reached because landslides triggered by the quake had wiped out roads, he said.
The quake also battered Indian Kashmir, killing more than 300 people there, but it was Pakistan’s side of the disputed Himalayan region that was worst hit with the majority of deaths there, a military official said.
Most houses and government buildings and shops had collapsed in Muzaffarabad, Ali said.
“No one knows how many have been killed or how many survived,” he said by satellite telephone.
Private Geo TV said a military hospital in the small mountain city had been destroyed and injured people were lying in the courtyard of the one working hospital waiting for attention from doctors struggling to cope.
U.S. Geological Survey said the tremor occurred at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles). It struck about 95 km (60 miles) northeast of Islamabad and was felt across the subcontinent, shaking buildings in the Afghan, Indian and Bangladeshi capitals.
The first quake was followed over the next 18 hours by more than 20 aftershocks with magnitudes of between 4.5 and 6.3. Thousands of people in northern Pakistan slept in the open while residents of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, were kept on edge through the night by tremors.
Some 400 children were killed at two schools in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province.
A military spokesman said 215 Pakistani soldiers were killed in the hardest-hit areas.
Half of the Indian deaths were in Uri, the last big town on the road connecting the two sides of the violence-scarred region. The dead included 15 soldiers, some in bunkers close to a military ceasefire line.
Landslides blocked the 300-km (190-mile) road that connects Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, to the rest of India to the south. The Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road linking Indian and Pakistani Kashmir, reopened to traffic this year for the first time in nearly 60 years, was also blocked.
Ghulam Rashool, an official at the Pakistan Meteorological Department, said it was the strongest earthquake in South Asia since the 1905 Kangra earthquake that killed 20,000 people in India’s Madhya Pradesh state.
In Islamabad, rescuers found at least two survivors clinging to life in the ruins of apartment blocks that crashed down on scores of residents.
Twenty-three bodies had been found but about 90 people were pulled alive from the Margala Towers blocks where expatriate workers and middle-class Pakistanis lived, officials said.
A boy was pulled out alive on Sunday morning to the cheers of rescue workers who said there were other survivors still trapped.
A medical officer at the scene, Faisal Kakar, said a woman had been found alive in a space underneath the rubble, and she had said three or four other survivors were with her. A short time earlier, another rescue worker said a man was found alive pinned in the ruins.
Pledges of aid from around the world came within hours.
President George W. Bush said U.S. aid was on the way and Britain said it was sending search and rescue experts and sniffer dogs.
Kofi Annan sent condolences to Pakistan, and a U.N. Disaster and Coordination Team in Geneva was on standby to be deployed. Oxfam and other aid agencies planned to coordinate their response with the
Turkey, which has suffered major earthquakes in the past, said it had sent two military planes carrying aid, doctors and rescue workers. Japan sent a team of 49 aid workers.
In a further sign of easing tension between India and Pakistan, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Musharraf to offer assistance.
(Additional reporting by Robert Birsel and Suzanna Koster in Islamabad, Kamil Zaheer in Baramulla, Y.P. Rajesh in New Delhi)