Source Pravda.Ru

2.5 million Homeless after Pakistani earthquake

Relief operations in earthquake-hit Pakistan-controlled Kashmir got into full gear on Wednesday with the help of United States and German helicopters, but hundreds of thousands of survivors are still desperate for help after a fourth night out in the cold.

Pakistani army spokesperson Major Farooq Nasir said blue skies after torrential downpours on Tuesday had cleared the way for more mercy flights to bring badly needed food and medicine, and take away the injured.

"We are bringing in food, blankets, tents, and rescue teams. The weather has cleared so we're going full ahead now with the relief operations," Nasir told AFP in this devastated city, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Muzaffarabad bore the brunt of the 7.6-magnitude earthquake which struck on Saturday, killing at least 23000 people in Pakistan and instantly making about 2.5 million homeless, according to official estimates.

It was the worst natural calamity in Pakistan's history and officials fear the death toll could rise in the days ahead as the rubble is cleared and more bodies are found beneath the ruins.

Towns and villages across northern Pakistan and parts of Kashmir have turned into makeshift refugee camps, with shocked survivors huddling under whatever they can find as they wait for aid that many say has been too slow coming, News24 says.

Nasir said 95 helicopter relief flights had brought vital relief to the worst-hit regions of Kashmir over the past 24 hours, including 12 in the first few hours of daylight on Wednesday.

Witnesses said the thumping twin-roters of US army Chinook helicopters, diverted from the war against Taliban insurgents in neighbouring Afghanistan, could be heard over Muzaffarabad shortly after sunrise.

T.E.

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