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Musharraf seeks international aid
Earthquake kills thousands in Pakistan

          ISLAMABAD, Oct 9: Pakistan's interior minister said Sunday that at least 19,136 people had died and 42,397 were injured in the massive earthquake, report agencies.
Around 11,000 of the dead were in Muzaffarabad, the capital city of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, Aftab Sherpao told a news conference in Islamabad.
"It is such a horrendous situation that one cannot imagine," Sherpao said. "Casualties are increasing by the hour."
Another report adds: An estimated 30,000 people were killed in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir by a massive earthquake, the region's Minister for Works and Communication Tariq Farooq told AFP Sunday.
"Our rough estimates say more than 30,000 people have died in the earthquake in Kashmir," he said. Pakistan's military said earlier that at least 18,000 died in the 7.6 magnitude quake that hit Saturday.
The worst hit place was Bagh, 40 kilometres (25 miles) southeast of Muzaffarabad, Farooq said. Between 6,000 and 7,000 people are estimated to have died in the town and adjoining areas, Farooq said.
"There are no survivors in villages like Jaglari, Kufalgarh, Harigal and Baniyali in Bagh district," Farooq said.
Pakistan's Minister For Kashmir Affairs, Faisal Hayat, said that half of Kashmir has been "severely affected by the earthquake".
The quake also killed at least 320 people and injured 700 in the Indian zone of Kashmir, said the state's chief secretary Vijay Bakaya, warning the toll would rise.
The epicentre was close to the dividing line between Indian and Pakistani controlled zones of Kashmir, and scores of soldiers on both sides died when their heavily-fortified positions collapsed around them.
Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, but a peace process is under way and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh immediately reached out to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to offer help.
US President George W. Bush said help was on the way to victims of what he called a "horrible tragedy" while in Brussels the European Union earmarked three million euros (3.6 million dollars) for the rescue effort.
UN chief Kofi Annan said he was "deeply saddened by the loss of life and destruction" caused by the earthquake, as the world body rushed an emergency team to Pakistan to coordinate rescue efforts.
In Britain, which has a sizeable Pakistani community, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the government was prepared to respond to "all demands" for help.
Britain, along with France and Japan, dispatched specialist rescue teams with sniffer dogs and special cutting equipment.
Kashmir is well known to be a high-risk area for earthquakes as it lies on the collision area of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates which created the mighty Himalayas 50 million years ago.
Meanwhile: Pakistan is seeking help from the international community in the aftermath of a huge earthquake which killed more than 18,000 people, President Pervez Musharraf told the state new agency.
"We do seek international assistance, we have enough manpower but we need financial support so that we may utilise in a required way to cope with the tragedy," Musharraf was quoted as saying by the Associated Press of Pakistan.
"Then there is a need for large supplies of medicines, tents and cargo helicopters to reach out to the people in far-flung and cut-off areas, the bigger these copters the better," he added.
Musharraf, who was speaking ahead of a visit to the worst hit area, added that the quake was the biggest tragedy in the history of Pakistan, which emerged from the partition of India in 1947.
"Right now we are facing the biggest tragedy of our history. I am sure that the entire nation will face it steadfastly," Musharraf told state television network PTV.
Pakistan's military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan said the country urgently required transport choppers to reach victims in remote areas.
Asked by broadcaster CNN whether US forces in neighbouring Afghanistan were sending helicopters, military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan said, "I am not very sure wether we are getting (them) or not.
Sultan was speaking to CNN from what he called "ground zero" of the disaster, the main Kashimiri town of Muzaffarabad, about 75 percent of which he said had been totally devastated.
He added: "The area is totally flattened. In Muzaffarabad one can still see hundreds of people lying on beds here next to the helipad." Helicopters had already carried more than 500 people to hospitals elsewhere.
Thirty Pakistani army helicopters left for the worst affected areas Sunday carrying vital aid.
Pakistan-controlled Kashmir's Minister for Works and Communication Tariq Farooq earlier told AFP more than 30,000 people were estimated to have died in the earthquake in Kashmir.
Meanwhile: Indian troops spearheaded rescue and relief operations Sunday in Indian-administered Kashmir, digging through rubble with spades and their bare hands, as ruling Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi toured this devastated town offering comfort to survivors.
Thousands of soldiers joined forces with local people in a desperate search for loved ones feared trapped under the rubble.
"I've come to share your grief," Gandhi told people in Uri, one of the worst-hit spots close to the de facto border with Pakistan which has been rattled by about a dozen aftershock since Saturday's massive earthquake.
According to Jijaz Ahmed, the deputy commissioner of Baramulla district, at least 130 people died in Uri and some 1,500 houses were destroyed by the quake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale.
Gandhi, accompanied by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, army chief Joginder Jaswant Singh and chief minister of Indian-Kashmir Mufti Mohammed Sayed, visited the injured in a makeshift medical camp as well as what remains of the town's main market.
Despite Gandhi's reassurances, groups of angry Kashmiris protested the slow pace of relief work. Dozens of residents of Salamabad town, five kilometres (three miles) from Uri, stopped vehicles on the main road to complain they had not received any help.
Army officials admitted it would still take time for soldiers and relief workers to reach remote areas on foot.
They had pulled out two dozen dead from under the debris themselves since Saturday morning, sent many more to hospitals and were still digging to look for "many missing".
Banu was getting ready for school, when her home started shaking.
The Indian air force had deployed a fleet of cargo and transport planes as well as heavy-lift helicopters, a spokesman said.
Army doctors and engineers flew in from the Indian capital Delhi to Srinagar, Indian Kashmir's summer capital.
Choppers began ferrying the injured from the devastated Kashmiri towns of Uri, Kupwara, Udhampur and Tangdhar Saturday and continued Sunday doing so.
A giant Illyushin-76 and six Antonov-32 aircraft were bring heavy machinery into Kashmir, air force spokesman Squadron leader Mahesh Upasini told AFP.


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