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Pakistan's Official Quake Toll at 73,000

November 03, 2005|From Associated Press

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The official earthquake death toll jumped to more than 73,000 in Pakistan, and authorities warned Wednesday that it was likely to rise further as relief supplies failed to reach thousands of victims stranded in remote parts of the Himalayas.

The announcement, which increased the official toll by nearly 16,000, brought the central government figure closer to the number reported by local officials, who have said that the Oct. 8 quake killed at least 79,000.

Maj. Gen. Farooq Ahmad Khan, the Pakistani relief commissioner, said 73,276 people had been confirmed dead in Pakistan and the Pakistani-controlled portion of Kashmir, up from an official count of 57,597. In the Indian-held portion of Kashmir, 1,350 people reportedly died.

More than 69,000 people had severe injuries, with the total number of injured much higher, the general said.

Khan attributed the much higher death toll to bodies being recovered from the debris.

Top U.N. relief coordinator Jan Egeland told PBS that "there are many thousands, potentially tens of thousands, up there in the mountains that are wounded we haven't gotten to." He said that a "second wave of death" could come from "people who could freeze to death, starve to death, or just be sick because of infected water."

United Nations officials said money for distribution of relief supplies was running dangerously low. Donors have pledged $131 million of the $550 million sought by the U.N. for emergency quake aid.

The U.N.'s World Food Program has only enough money -- $10 million -- to rent a third of the helicopters it needs for an around-the-clock operation into the winter, spokesman Simon Pluess said.

Khan said 31 tent settlements for quake victims had been established in northwestern Pakistan and 27 in Pakistani-held Kashmir. About 500,000 tents are needed to shelter the homeless; 300,000 have been distributed.

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