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2 Quakes Hit Pakistan, Killing 18

February 15, 2004|From Associated Press

ABBOTABAD, Pakistan — Two earthquakes struck a remote region of northern Pakistan on Saturday, toppling walls and triggering landslides that killed at least 18 people and injured 30 others. About 250 homes were damaged.

At least one person was reported missing. Rescue crews were trying to reach the area in the rugged Hindu Kush mountain range, which is covered by a thick blanket of snow. Officials said they feared that the death toll could rise as temperatures plunged overnight.

The magnitude 5.7 and 5.5 quakes hit about 90 minutes apart in the afternoon and were centered about 125 miles northeast of Peshawar. They were felt 90 miles away in the capital, Islamabad.

Authorities sent doctors and police teams to remote villages to provide relief and assess damage, said Syed Ahmed Hussain, the mayor of the region's Mansehra district.

"We have information that people have been buried by debris in some areas," he said. "People in some areas are sitting outdoors in snow. They fear going back to their homes."

Thirteen people were killed when the pickup truck in which they were riding was struck by a boulder loosened by the second quake, sending the vehicle into a river in the Batgram district, said Adam Khan, a local police official.

Homes in two villages in the region -- 70 in Anghrai and 40 in Paras -- were reported to have been seriously damaged.

The rest of the damaged homes were in surrounding areas. Most homes in the region are built of mud, stone and timber.

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