Government officials in Pakistan are seeking international aid for the survivors of Saturday's devastating earthquake, which killed nearly 20,000 people.
Initial surveys suggest towns and villages in the Pakistani-controlled Kashmir region bore the brunt of the 7.6 magnitude quake. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told reporters Sunday evening that most of the dead are in Kashmir, where the quake's epicenter was located.
Mr. Aziz says rescue workers have yet to reach some of the hardest-hit areas, and special teams are assessing the region's most pressing needs: "We have focused all our energies on getting food to the people, getting people out of debris, getting the injured to hospitals, treating the injured, where possible, on site."
Landslides have wiped out entire villages in Kashmir, and rescue workers say key roads remain blocked by debris. 70% of the regional capital, Muzafarabad, is said to be in ruins.
Pakistani troops are working around the clock to restore access to the city, and
supply urgently needed relief.
Western aid workers say that the earthquake also has devastated areas in the
neighboring North Western Frontier Province.
In the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, rescue teams are still digging through the
rubble of a 10-story apartment building that collapsed Saturday morning, trapping several hundred people.
After surveying the damage in northern parts of Pakistan, President Pervez
Musharraf asked the international community for emergency assistance: "We have tremendous amount of manpower. What we do need is financial support, so we can utilize it in any we feel is required. Secondly, medicines and thirdly, tentage and blankets."
The president said that many quake-affected areas are only accessible by air,
and the country desperately needs helicopters to help ferry aid to the victims. The United States quickly responded, and is sending eight military helicopters and two C-130 aircraft.
Aid offers, including teams of doctors, rescue equipment and shelter as well as
financial assistance are also pouring in from around the world.