An aftershock shook Pakistan on Thursday, rattling the nerves of those who lived through last weekend's devastating earthquake and bringing an even greater sense of urgency to efforts to find survivors under the precarious rubble.
The 5.6-magnitude aftershock was centered 135 kilometers (85 miles) north of Islamabad, near the epicenter of Saturday's 7.6-magnitude quake that demolished whole towns, mostly in the Himalayan region of Kashmir. It shook buildings but no new damage was immediately reported.
"There was a lot of panic. People were scared. Even those who were sleeping in tents came out. Everybody was crying. We feared this might be like the big one," said Nisar Abbasi, 36, an accountant who has been camping on the lawn of his destroyed home in Muzaffarabad.
There have been dozens of aftershocks since the main quake, including a 6.2-magnitude temblor.
"They will go on for months, possibly years," said Don Blakeman, geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center.
About a dozen men worked through the night in Islamabad looking for survivors from a 10-story apartment building that collapsed Saturday, the only serious damage in Pakistan's capital.
They pulled out two bodies Thursday morning, which they quickly covered in burial shrouds, but found no signs of life. One of the victims was identified by searchers as a woman of dual Norwegian-Pakistani nationality.
Hope of finding survivors was also dwindling in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, where Britain's Department for International Development was pulling out its team of 60 search and rescue workers, said Rob Holden, the team leader for UN disaster assessment and coordination, which is overseeing the overall rescue effort.
"No one is giving up but it is the acceptance that the actual real chances of finding someone alive are almost nil, so we don't need all the specialist international teams," Holden said, adding that there are still 18 international teams in the region.
"We have enough teams here to finish off the search and rescue," he said.
A Russian team on Wednesday rescued a 5-year-old girl in Muzaffarabad, who had been trapped for nearly 100 hours in the rubble. A day earlier, her neighbors had recovered the bodies of her father and two of her sisters, but her mother and another two sisters survived.
Trucks and helicopters with aid from dozens of countries choked the roads up to the crumbling towns of Kashmir, but the hungry and the homeless in many hard-hit areas were still in desperate straits five days after the temblor struck.
The death toll was believed to be more than 35,000, and tens of thousands more were injured.
"No country is ready for such a disaster," said President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in a nationally televised address Wednesday, acknowledging initial delays in his government response but saying now the relief operation is now in full swing, reports the AP.
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