A strong aftershock of Pakistani Kashmir's quake that killed more than 54,000 people shook the region anew Wednesday, unleashing landslides and alarming survivors as well as the aid workers toiling to get them supplies and medical help.
Despite brisk sorties of helicopters delivering aid to quake victims in recent days, an estimated half-million survivors in Pakistan's portion of Kashmir have yet to receive any help since the monster 7.6-magnitude quake struck on Oct. 8, leveling entire villages. Thousands desperately need medical care.
The problem is worst in the estimated 1,000 settlements outside the main cities and towns, said regional U.N. disaster coordinator Rob Holden.
"Many people out there we are not going to get to in time," Holden said. "Some people who have injuries don't have a chance of survival."
Many of the 250 injured people choppered into the regional hub of Muzaffarabad on Tuesday were being attended by a qualified medic for the first time since the quake, Holden said. Rates of infection and gangrene are rising, leaving amputation the only option in an increasing number of cases.
"One of the key factors for us is time that's a massive pressure on us," he said.
Wednesday morning's 5.8-magnitude aftershock struck 129 kilometers (80 miles) north of Islamabad, near the epicenter of the main quake, according to the U.S. National Earthquake Center in Colorado. It was followed by another in the same area about 45 minutes later that registered 5.6.
The first aftershock caused a landslide in Balakot, one of the cities hardest hit by the initial quake. Debris covered the road to nearby Mansehra, but it was quickly cleared, said Pakistani Army Lt. Col. Saeed Iqbal, who is in charge of the relief efforts in the area.
A landslide also blocked a road out of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, but it was expected to be cleared later in the day, said Ali Hassan, an engineer heading a road-clearing team, reports the AP.