Pakistan quake toll tops 73,000

Pakistan has dramatically increased the official death toll from the devastating earthquake that hit the north of the country last month to 73,276 and said it could rise further.

    The quake was the strongest to hit South Asia in 100 years

    Federal Relief Commissioner Major-General Farooq Ahmed Khan
    said on Wednesday the sharp rise from a figure of 57,600 given a day earlier could be related to concerted efforts to clear debris since the 8 October disaster.
       
    "Unfortunately the death toll has risen to 73,276 and the number of injured is over 69,000," he told a news conference in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

    "There is a likelihood of a further increase." Another 1300 have been confirmed dead in Indian Kashmir.
       
    Khan said those listed as injured were seriously hurt.
       
    Khan said the government had received around $2 billion in pledges for the massive task of reconstruction, still way short of its cost estimate of more than $5 billion.
       
    Pakistan hope to raise more at a 19 November donors' conference to be attended by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. 

    International aid 

    The United Nations, heading a massive international relief effort, says donors have failed to provide sufficient funds for emergency aid work and warns that as many people who died in the quake could perish in the winter unless help reaches them fast.

    "Unfortunately the death toll has risen to 73,276 and the number of injured is over 69,000"

    Major-General Farooq Ahmed Khan, Federal Relief Commissioner

    Jakob Kellenberger, president of International Committee of the Red Cross, visited its emergency hospital in badly-damaged Muzaffarabad and spoke of a race against the approaching winter.
       
    He said the ICRC was assisting 10,000 people a day and hoped to cover the needs of 150,000 by the second half of November.

    The UN Refugee agency said it had set up 12 camps for the homeless and more refugees were expected to head down from the mountains as the weather worsened.

    Pakistani Kashmir and adjoining North West Frontier Province bore the brunt of the 7.6 magnitude quake.

    It was the strongest to hit South Asia in 100 years and left more than three million people in need of emergency shelter with a bitter Himalayan winter approaching.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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