U.S. pledges $5 million in aid relief
BHUJ, India -- At least three people including a seven-year-old child and his mother have been pulled from the rubble left by Friday's devastating earthquake in northwestern India raising hopes among exhausted rescuers of finding further survivors.
The official death toll following the quake has been raised to 11,000 with at least 32,000 injured and thousands still missing.
However, India's Defense Minister, George Fernandes, has said reports from government officials indicate that as many as 20,000 could have been killed with other estimates putting to number of dead even higher.
The rescue effort is being led by thousands of Indian troops -- the largest operation of its kind by India's armed forces. Specialist teams from around the world have also joined in.
Doctors say a four-year-old girl who was buried for four days under earthquake debris is doing "just fine."
Her rescue, in the town of Bhuj, was the second by emergency workers on Monday. A frail 90-year-old woman was also pulled out alive from her collapsed building.
On Sunday the Indian government announced that it would be seeking at least $1.5 billion in aid and loans to begin reconstruction.
Officials say the cost of rebuilding will be enormous and Indian Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha says New Delhi will ask the World Bank and other international agencies for assistance.
Already teams from Switzerland, Britain, Russia and Israel have arrived while a seven-member U.S. disaster response team is expected to arrive Monday.
Further aid has been promised from around the globe, with even India's arch-rival Pakistan offering support.
The United States government says its disaster response team is part of $5 million in aid it has pledged to help India recover.
Patrick Fuller, head of the International Red Cross in India told CNN's Nic Robertson that international aid is shifting from rescue efforts to getting relief to thousands left homeless or injured by the quake.
"The situation in the outlying areas and villages is still very unclear and information about the level of destruction and the number of casualties is still trickling in, he said.
"There appears to be plenty of doctors in place, but there is still a need for more medical supplies."
One of the first doctors on the scene was Dr. Gautam Lahiri who performed 50 operations in the first 12 hours after the quake struck. He says he was completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of the needs.
"They were basically trying to touch me, pull me in their direction. 'Do my case first. Why are you not taking my child first?'" he said.
Army surgeons in Bhuj -- the town worst hit by the quake -- have performed more than 1,000 operations in the open, including at least 200 amputations and hundreds involving skull injuries and crushed bones.
If the defense minister's predictions of more than 20,000 dead are confirmed, the toll would outstrip the numbers killed in the massive quake in Turkey in 1999, when almost more than 18,000 died.
Friday's quake struck on Republic Day, a national holiday when many people were at home enjoying a day off work with their families.
The effects of the quake were felt for more than 1,200 miles (1,930 km), but it hit hardest in Gujarat state.
In Ahmedabad alone, 40 to 50 high-rise buildings were toppled by the quake and some 14,000 people, mostly suffering broken bones and cuts, have jammed the city's hospitals.
Once a prosperous town of 150,000, Bhuj - in India's Gujarat state - has been almost completely flattened.
Rescuers are using everything from high-tech equipment to their bare hands to detect the tiniest vibrations that might indicate survivors buried under piles of rubble and debris.
As rescue work ground on into a third straight day, relatives of the thousands missing remain huddled around what remains of their homes.
"I want my son back. Why can't they do something?" cried one survivor whose 16-year old child was buried somewhere under the rubble.
Other survivors have been blaming the authorities for failing to enforce construction standards, with many saying help from the government was too slow in coming when the quake first hit.
In the city of Ahmedabad, local residents said it was left to them to launch the rescue effort.
"We private citizens have arranged for this single crane," said Ashok Patel, a bank manager. "We need at least another two cranes, but who will listen to us?"
Most Gujarat state officials were attending a military parade for Republic Day on Friday, a commemoration of the adoption of India's constitution in 1950.
"We lost precious hours soon after the earthquake," said survivor Dhrumal Vaidya. "Every state government officer we called was away at a parade. Even police came six hours after the quake."
However, Gujarat Chief minister Keshubahi Patel has rejected the criticisms level against his officials.
"I organized the officials at the parade itself and we got down to work. But an earthquake is not a cyclone," he said. "We were not forewarned."
Since the quake struck, funeral pyres have been burning night and day, with dazed survivors sleeping outside in fear of more aftershocks.
Officials say further strong tremors could last for at least a few more days, bringing down buildings already weakened by the quake.
On Sunday, an aftershock with a magnitude of 6 sent many running into the streets fearing a repeat of Friday's horror. It was the largest of nearly 300 aftershocks so far.
India tends to quake survivors
U.S. Geological Survey
U.S. 'ready to talk' with N. Korea
Death toll nears 1,000 in South Asia's cold spell
IAEA: Year for Iraq inspections
U.S. doubles forces in Persian Gulf
Mugabe resignation offer proposed
OPEC to raise daily oil output
N. Y. plans to heal skyline
Stocks rise on Case departure
Lieberman's presidential announcement today
New arrests may be linked to UK ricin scare
Jordan says farewell for the third time
Shaq could miss playoff game for child's birth
Ex-USOC official says athletes bent drug rules
|Back to the top||
© 2003 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.