Terrain major barrier in quake aid
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Relief workers trying to help the millions of people hit by Pakistan's worst-ever earthquake are working around treacherous mountainous terrain to get to them.
The quake on Saturday was felt across South Asia, from central Afghanistan to western Bangladesh, shaking the capitals of three nations and bringing down a 10-story apartment building in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.
But the epicenter of the 7.6-magnitude quake was in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which sits in the Himalayan foothills.
Also badly hit was the area north of Muzaffarabad in Pakistan's North-West Frontier province where victims are in dire need.
In this seismic hotbed where the Indian plate plate slams up against the Eurasian one, the world's highest mountain peaks are created, and the towns and villages who lie in their shadows are remote at the best of times.
These far flung areas of Pakistan have been the worst affected, with reports of entire villages and even towns completely flattened, and roads buried in rubble.
Weak buildings were unable to withstand the shallow quake, with at least two major hospitals in the area badly damaged.
Witnesses said the city of Balakot, in the North-West Frontier province, is destroyed. "It is likely the ground zero," Brig. Shah Jahan told CNN.
No one knows how long it will take for rescuers and aid to get to such places because the massive quake triggered landslides that have blocked roads.
But the Pakistani army's priority is to re-open the roads so they can get into these areas and one official has set an optimistic timeline.
"The enormity of the earthquake is so much, the area affected is so massive. It has been difficult to reach everyone in the first 24-36 hours. We hope rescue teams will reach everyone at least by today evening," said Pakistan presidential spokesman, Major General Shaukat Sultan.
As much as 40 percent of the areas hit by the quake have not yet been reached by rescue teams, according to CNN Correspondent Satinder Bindra.
The death toll in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan is said to be 22,000. (Full story)
Needs rival those of tsunami
Unknown numbers of Pakistanis are sleeping in the open in near freezing temperatures at night and they've lost everything. Across wide areas there is no power, or adequate food or water.
Rain showers are forecast to hit parts of northern Pakistan on Monday, possibly triggering more landslides.
Across the border in Afghanistan, people are using their bare hands to clear debris, while India says several hundred people died in Indian-controlled Kashmir after the quake leveled villages north of Srinagar.
More than 2.5 million people are homeless, a United Nations official said Sunday, and victims need tents and blankets.
The United Nations has been coordinating relief efforts from the international airport in Islamabad, said Jan Egeland, U.N. undersecretary for humanitarian affairs.
But he said the need was staggering, with the number of homeless rivaling those left without shelter after last year's tsunami in South Asia.
Some of the homeless are afraid to go into shelters because of aftershocks.
Many survivors have been critical of the government's relief operation. They say thousands still need help, and with only a trickle of aid, angry Kashmiris were blocking roads and demanding relief. (Full story)
'Bear with us'
Meeting with emotionally charged victims Gen. Pervez Musharraf has appealed for patience and calm.
"For heaven's sake bear with us. There are certain limitations we are trying our best,'' he said.
On Sunday, Musharraf called on the international community for cargo helicopters to bypass roads blocked by mudslides.
In response, U.S. President George W. Bush on Sunday promised cash and eight helicopters to help with earthquake rescue and recovery.
The first U.S. planeload of relief supplies landed at Rawalpindi's military airfield early on Monday morning.
India, a longtime rival of Pakistan, offered help and condolences in a gesture of cooperation. The nuclear rivals have been pursuing peace after fighting three wars since independence from British rule in 1947, two of them over Kashmir.
Kashmir lies on the collision area of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates, which began creating the Himalayas 50 million years ago and raise the Himalayas by about 5 millimeters year.
CNN's Satinder Bindra, Hugh Rimington and Ram Rampogal contributed to this report.
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