Indian PM pledges more quake aid

India's prime minister has acknowledged that there is not enough aid reaching the Indian-administered Kashmir and pledged another $111 million in government relief funds.

    The earthquake measured 7.6 on the Richter scale

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh acknowledged on Tuesday that many survivors of the powerful South Asian earthquake in Indian Kashmir did not have enough tents and medicines.

    Officials said the toll in Indian Kashmir from Saturday's 7.6-magnitude quake had reached 1005 - including 934 civilians and 71 defence personnel.

    Touring the devastated areas for the first time on Tuesday, Singh assured thousands of victims that the government would help them restart their lives, and announced another 5 billion rupees ($111 million) in assistance.

    This is in addition to 1.42 billion rupees ($31.5 million) already promised by his government for relief and rehabilitation in the Himalayan territory.

    'Doing our best'

    "I am aware of the shortage of tents and inadequate medical facilities. We will do our best to organise these facilities for you," Singh said after meeting survivors in Uri, the worst-affected area of Indian Kashmir.

    He made similar comments in Tangdar, another badly hit area. Both districts are close to the ceasefire line, known as the Line of Control, that divides Kashmir between longtime rivals India and Pakistan.

    India has promised to send
    25 tonnes of aid to Pakistan

    The quake caused much greater destruction in the Pakistani part of Kashmir, where more than 20,000 people were killed.

    India has promised about 25 tonnes of aid for Pakistan which is to be delivered by a transport plane later on Tuesday.

    Indian Home Secretary VK Duggal said 2430 people were injured and about 5000 homes and buildings were damaged or destroyed in Indian Kashmir.

    On Monday, one of Kashmir's biggest separatist organisations, the Hizb-ul-Mujahidin, offered to suspend violence, while other nonviolent groups joined relief efforts, distributing milk, food and blankets.

    The bulk of the relief effort, however, has been led by the government and army, which has more than a half million soldiers posted in the territory.

    More aid needed

    Army planes have been dropping food, medicines and shrouds in which the dead are buried since Muslims do not make use of coffins for burial.

    The supplies were dropped from the air to inaccessible mountain villages. In addition, about 5000 tents have been provided, far short of the 15,000 needed.

    Survivors are counting on the
    government for medical help

    But desperate villagers have complained that they are not getting food and shelter quickly enough.

    "It has been three days and nothing is at our village," said Mohammed Zafra, a villager who hired a car to get supplies from Uri, the nearest large town.

    "We have no water. We are running out of food," Zafra said as he tried to fend off angry villagers who mistook him and his car - now piled high with blankets, food and cooking supplies - for an aid supply.

    "Nothing has come to us, nothing!" shouted one woman, a blue veil covering her hair, as she banged on the hood of his car before being pushed away by two policemen.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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