Skip to main content

Pakistan puts quake toll at 18,000

Emergency workers toil through the night; deaths high in Kashmir



U.S. Geological Survey

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- The Pakistan earthquake toll has reached 18,000 dead and more than 41,000 injured, Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, a spokesman for Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, said Sunday.

Sultan told CNN the figure was as of (10 p.m. ET Saturday). CNN could not independently verify Sultan's figures.

He said the magnitude 7.6 quake that struck Pakistan and parts of India and Afghanistan on Saturday morning had killed 18,020 and injured 41,188 people.

Most of the dead, Sultan said, were in the Pakistani-controlled part of Kashmir, followed by the North-West Province and other northern areas.

Among the dead were 215 army soldiers, including six officers, Sultan said. In addition, 414 soldiers were injured.

President Musharraf planned to tour quake-struck areas again Sunday.

The quake hit Saturday at 8:50 a.m. (11:50 p.m. ET Friday). Its epicenter was about 60 miles north-northeast of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. It was felt in major cities, including Islamabad and Lahore, and India's capital of New Delhi. (See scenes of major damage in the capital - :44)

The death toll is expected to rise, Sultan said, because rescue workers and the military have been unable to access some of the remote areas hit by the quake. He said entire villages and many roads have been wiped out by landslides.

"The army has fully mobilized to handle this situation. This disaster is by far the biggest in its magnitude and scale so far that we have witnessed in Pakistan's history," the general said.

"There is a lot that needs to be done. There are many areas that so far have not been reached. The death toll of 18,000 could be many-fold more as we reach more areas and as we discover more and more dead bodies under the rubble."

The army is trying to evacuate the injured and set up medical camps and relief centers. Helicopters are airlifting supplies, then transporting injured people to hospitals. The army's biggest problem is trying to access remote areas, he said.

Pakistan needs transport helicopters able to carry large machinery that can be used to clear debris. Until roads are cleared, relief operations will have to rely on helicopter flights, Sultan said.

Emergency workers on Sunday are continuing to pull out the trapped, treat the injured and feed the homeless survivors of the earthquake.

In Islamabad, nearly 24 hours after the quake hit, rescue workers were trying to free as many as 100 people trapped beneath a collapsed apartment building in Islamabad. At least 25 bodies were pulled from the rubble, along with eight survivors.

Salim Bokhari, group editor with the English-language newspaper "The News," said from Lahore, Pakistan, that he had reports that 250 students were killed when a school building collapsed 40 miles from Islamabad. Also, he said, three school buildings were reported to have been destroyed in the Pakistani-ruled part of disputed Kashmir, killing more than 200 children.

In addition, Bokhari said one of three hospitals in Pakistani Kashmir reportedly collapsed.

In Amritsar, east of Lahore, a man sobbed as he described losing his business.

"The earthquake struck and minutes after I got a call that smoke was coming out of my shop. I rushed and saw that my shop was on fire. I have suffered massive losses."

Only one death was reported in Afghanistan. A young girl died in Jalalabad when a wall collapsed in her home. A U.S. soldier told CNN the quake was felt in Kabul, but "effects were minimal."

Frantic efforts to rescue survivors continued in Islamabad early Sunday morning. Video footage from Pakistani television showed crowds of people climbing on the rubble of an apartment building and attempting to free those trapped under large concrete slabs. Some of the injured were carried away on stretchers. (Watch the latest rescue efforts - 1:10)

Many people were still in their beds when the quake struck. Witness Malik Abdul Manan, who lives in Islamabad, said he and his family "woke up and ran out. The shocks went on for a long time." (More witness accounts)

Stunned Pakistanis, many covered with blood, were camped out in the streets on Sunday, fearful of returning home because of aftershocks, one of which measured 6.3 in magnitude.

"Even today, people are scared," Bokhari said.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz called the earthquake "severe" and "a major catastrophe" and said it's a "traumatic experience" for citizens.

Help offered

Political tensions between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region took a back seat as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called President Pervez Musharraf and offered help. Musharraf thanked him for his offer.

The two nations have fought three wars -- two of them over Kashmir -- since independence from British rule in 1947.

Aziz, who saw aerial views of the devastation, said "we have provided for a lot of alternate housing. Luckily, the weather is not that cold yet so people are living in tents, sleeping bags. Blankets, water, food and a lot of help is coming from all over the country and overseas also."

Earlier, the breakdown of 1,080 people killed in Pakistan included 520 in North-West Frontier province, 310 in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, and 50 in the Pakistani cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, according to figures from police, the Interior Ministry and local hospitals. Two hundred Pakistani soldiers were killed in Kashmir and northern areas of Pakistan, and 300 others were wounded, Sultan told CNN.

In Indian-controlled Kashmir, or Jammu-Kashmir, the death toll stood at about 256, including 36 Indian soldiers, according to local government, army and police officials.

Some 700 other people were injured in Jammu-Kashmir as well, including 82 soldiers, according to the police and military. Local officials estimate more than 1,000 dwellings have been damaged or destroyed across Jammu-Kashmir.

Qamar Uz Zaman, director-general of the Pakistani Meteorological Department, told CNN that "this was the strongest earthquake in the area during the last hundred years."

The United States, Britain, Germany, Turkey, Japan, the United Nations and non-governmental humanitarian groups have marshaled resources to help the region. (Details)

Musharraf and Aziz reviewed rescue and relief operations at the collapsed apartment building -- the 10-story residential Margalla Tower.

Rain and brisk winds hampered the effort late Saturday, but by the early hours of Sunday, the weather had cleared.

Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao and senior military and civilian officials, were overseeing the operations and briefed the leaders.

The government said Pakistan Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, Civil Administration and Capital Development Authority took part in the operations.

How the quake compares with others

The quake was "quite shallow," said David Applegate, senior science advisor for earthquake and geologic hazards for the U.S. Geological Survey. "That means the shaking is going to be very intense."

The fact that Islamabad was near the epicenter "means a fairly large urban population has experienced some strong shaking," Applegate said.

The National Earthquake Information Center put the quake at 7.6 magnitude, which it considers "major." The Pakistani Meteorological Department put the magnitude at 7.5, and Japan's Meteorological Agency put it at 7.8.

In February 2004, a pair of earthquakes registering 5.5 and 5.4 magnitude killed at least 21 people and injured dozens more. Hundreds of homes built of mud, stone and timber were destroyed in a rugged, mountainous area about 90 miles northwest of Islamabad.

In January 2001, some 20,000 people died in a magnitude 7.7 quake that was centered in southern India but also caused damage and deaths in Pakistan.

CNN's Satinder Bindra, Syed Mohsin Naqvi and John Raedler as well as journalists Mukhtar Ahmed and Tom Coghlan contributed to this report.

Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.

© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines