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Massive Relief Effort Underway After Powerful Earthquake Rocks South Asia

  • VOA News

Massive relief efforts are underway in South Asia following the most powerful earthquake in recent memory that was centered in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and was felt from Afghanistan to India.

The quake's magnitude was put at seven-point-six. The confirmed death toll is well over a thousand, but a spokesman for Pakistan's president says the death toll in Kashmir alone could run into the thousands, where officials say most of the deaths occurred. Authorities say two schools collapsed in Pakistan's Northwest Province, burying hundreds of students in the rubble. Landslides in Kashmir have wiped out entire villages, and buildings have collapsed as far away as Islamabad -- 100 kilometers from the epicenter. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf called the earthquake a test for his nation, but says he is confident the nation will prevail. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz says the task now is to rescue those trapped in the rubble and rush food, medical supplies and temporary shelter to the hardest hit areas, in addition to doing damage assessments and evacuating people. Meanwhile, in Indian-controlled Kashmir, officials have confirmed more than 150 deaths, including soldiers who were stationed along the truce line separating Indian and Pakistani forces in the divided territory. In Afghanistan, Rural Development Minister Haneef Atmar says the earthquake caused some homes to collapse, but damage overall was not severe.

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