Army battles to free those trapped by tremor in Kashmir region
People survey a road ripped apart by the deadly earthquake that also brought down power lines on the outskirts of Mirpur Sept. 25. (Photo by Aamir Qureshi/AFP)
The death toll in a 5.8 magnitude earthquake that rattled Pakistan-administered Kashmir Sept. 24 has swiftly risen to 24, with more than 400 injured.
The epicenter of the earthquake was located one kilometer from the Kashmiri city of Mirpur at a depth of 10 kilometers, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The quake sent terrified residents in Islamabad, Punjab and northern Khyber Pakhtunkwa province into the streets. Tremors were also felt in the Indian capital New Delhi, about 650 kilometers (400 miles) away.
Pakistan’s disaster management agency rushed to the affected region to conduct damage assessment and carry out rescue operations.
“So far, we can confirm the death of at least 24 people and another 452 people have been injured due to accidents caused by the quake,” Lt-Gen Muahmmad Afzal, head of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) told ucanews.com. “Among those injured, 160 are in a serious condition.”
The agency also said that a rescue operation was under way to help those trapped under the debris of collapsed houses and that 200 tents and 800 blankets and food supplies had been dispatched to quake-hit areas.
The earthquake tore up many roads near Mirpur, Pakistan-administered Kashmir. (Photo by Kamran Chaudhry)
According to videos and photographs shared by people on social media, many Mirpur roads were completely or partially destroyed and many vehicles overturned. People also reported that the electricity supply to the area was down.
Pakistan army chief spokesman Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor said that troops and medical teams were on the ground and working with civil authorities.
“The Chief of the Army has directed an immediate rescue operation in aid of civil administration for victims of the earthquake in AJK [Azad Jammu and Kashmir],” he wrote.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is in New York to attend the 74th UN General Assembly session, conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims.
“Saddened to learn of the earthquake and the loss of precious lives. My condolences go to the families of the victims & prayers for an early recovery of the injured. I have directed our govt to ensure fast and immediate relief for the affected & damage assessment,” he tweeted.
Watch this ucanews.com report:
Caritas conducts rapid assessment
Moments after the quake, Caritas Pakistan conducted a coordination meeting to review the situation and carry out a rapid assessment.
“We are thinking of those affected by the quake. The news is reporting that the death toll and number of injured is increasing,” Amjad Gulzar, Executive Director of Caritas Pakistan, told ucanews.com.
“Our volunteers are updating [news] about the destruction through mobile and other social media networks. Further information is being gathered from parish priests in affected areas.
“An Emergency Response Team, comprising the national secretariat and Caritas unit in Islamabad-Rawalpindi Diocese, has already been dispatched to meet both the survivors and local humanitarian organizations.
“With the assistance of the confederation and our benefactors, a response plan to assist the victims will be formed based on the assessment of the situation.”
Pakistan is susceptible to earthquakes due to its location at the intersection of Indian, Eurasian and Arabian plate boundaries.
In October 2005, a 7.6-magnitude quake in Pakistan killed more than 865,000 people and left tens of thousands homeless.
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