Over 19,000 people killed in Pak quake

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Over 19,000 people have been killed and 42,397 injured in the devastating earthquake that rocked Pakistan and PoK, Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao announced.Latest details estimate the death toll to have increased to 30,000.

In the worst hit PoK region, 17,388 people have been killed, he said after an emergency meeting of officials to assess the damage caused by the quake.

While 19 people were killed in Islamabad and 94 others injured, 1,760 were killed in north west frontier province and 179 injured, the interior minister told reporters.

The capital of Pakistan occupied Kashmir, Muzaffarabad bore the brunt of the quake with 11,000 deaths.

“Casualties are increasing by the hour,” Sherapao said.

He said that the Pakistani army was hit hard by the quake with 114 army personnel killed and 200 injured in Muzaffarabad, 86 killed in Rawalakot and an equal number in bog besides 215 injured.

The killer quake also left casualties in Punjab province where 11 people were killed and 83 injured.

Hours after a massive earthquake struck Pakistan, killing thousands of people and injuring several hundreds, united nations’ child agency UNICEF said it has begun moving relief supplies to affected areas.

The supplies include blankets, clothing, tents, emergency medical supplies, food for infants and water purification tablets, UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman said here late last night.

UNICEF expects heavy casualties among children as one-fifth of the region’s population is under five years of age.

“Children in the affected areas will be vulnerable to hunger, cold, illness, and trauma,” Veneman said, adding, “Getting immediate life-saving relief into the region will be our priority for the next hours and days, even as the search and rescue effort goes on.”

UNICEF will work closely with the Pakistan government to determine what additional relief supplies are needed, the agency said.

Teams from UNICEF’s Peshawar office are being deployed into the countryside as part of a joint UN response team and the agency is standing by to mobilize needed supplies from its operations elsewhere in the region and from its global supply hub in Copenhagen, Veneman said.

The massive earthquake which rocked Pakistan turned out to be a nightmare for the media here.
As the buildings began shaking violently under the impact of the earthquake at 0850 am local time, anchors of a live morning breakfast show on the state-run PTV were the first to react.

Shocked by the intensity of the quake, the two anchors and their guest prayed loudly as the power went off in their studios. The quake, however, subsided by the time they removed the mikes to move out.

For the rest of the media too it proved to be an unnerving experience. Media personnel working in the local TV station ran in and out of their offices as the intermittent shocks rocked the city time and again.

The extensive damage sustained in South Asia’s massive earthquake is at least partly due to the fact that it struck relatively close to the surface, according to seismologists.

“Generally speaking, shallow earthquakes tend to cause greater damage than deep earthquakes,” Yasuo Sekita, a seismic specialist at the Japan Meteorological Agency said. The quake, measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale, centered on the Kashmir region with a focus some 10 kilometers beneath the earth’s surface, according to the us geological survey and other seismic institutes.

The quake caused damage to widespread areas because of its shallow depth, Issei Ohara, a seismologist at the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention, told the daily Mainichi.

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 Himalaya mountain range 50 million years ago.

Earthquakes with both shallow and deep focuses occur in the Kashmir region, Okada’s colleague, Yoshimitsu Okada, was also quoted as saying.

Japan, sitting on an area where three tectonic plates converge, endures 25 per cent of the world’s major earthquakes and has built its infrastructure accordingly, with Tokyo’s high-rises designed to withstand powerful tremors.