The official death toll from Pakistan's massive earthquake soared to more than 73,000 yesterday as a top government official warned it could rise furtherThe American military resumed flights into the disaster zone a day after it claimed one of its pilots came under rocket attack while delivering aid.
Federal Relief Commission Major General Farooq Ahmed Khan told reporters 73,276 people perished in the October 8 quake, up from an earlier estimate of about 57,600. A further 1,300 died in Indian-controlled Kashmir. "There is a likelihood of a further increase," he said.
The revised toll brought the government's figures closer to provincial estimates of 79,000 deaths and confirmed the 7.6 magnitude earthquake as among the deadliest of the past.
More than 3 million people have been left homeless and 69,000 seriously injured across a broad swath of Kashmir and North West Frontier province.
A frantic rescue operation is under way to rush tents, blankets and food supplies to survivors before winter.
At the weekend Pakistan and India agreed to open five border posts along their disputed boundary in Kashmir to facilitate humanitarian access. The crossing will start on November 7 and will be closely scrutinised.
On Tuesday an American pilot said he saw a rocket propelled grenade fired at his helicopter in Chakothi, an area notorious for harbouring Islamic militants. The helicopter was not hit. The Pakistani army denied the incident, saying the pilot was confused by army engineers who were clearing a blocked road with explosives.
Any suggestion of militant activity against foreign helicopters could cripple the emergency airlift into remote valleys which remain cut off three weeks after the earthquake. The Pakistani army is leading air operations with help from 24 US helicopters, three British Chinooks, and others from Japan, the Red Cross and the UN, reports Guardian Online. I.L.