MIRPUR, Pakistan-controlled Kashmir -
Rescue workers battled on Wednesday to reach people affected by a shallow
earthquake that rocked northeast Pakistan a day earlier, killing at least 28
people and injuring hundreds more as it tore roads apart and felled buildings.
Schools were shuttered near the quake-hit city of Mirpur in
Pakistan-controlled Kashmir where poor areas were reduced to rubble and the
towering brick fences surrounding expensive homes had crumbled.
Residents combed through the wreckage and assessed the damage
inflicted on their homes. Large cracks defaced the walls of many houses still
"I lost my house. I lost everything," said Abdullah
Khan, whose three-bedroom home in the village of Jatlan on the outskirts of
Mirpur was flattened by the magnitude 5.8 quake.
The Pakistan military led search-and-rescue operations as day
broke with fears growing that the death toll may jump again.
According to a statement from Pakistani Interior Ministry, 26
people were killed and 456 others injured in Mirpur, bordering Pakistan's
eastern Punjab Province.
At least two women were killed and 20 others wounded in two
different incidents of wall-collapsing in the eastern districts of Jhelum and
Lahore, officials said.
Rain continued to inundate the area after overnight showers
turned already damaged roads into muddy thoroughfares where livestock roamed
Mirpur, a city known for its palatial houses, has 450,000
Rescue operations continued through the night in the area as
local hospitals swelled with many patients suffering from multiple fractures.
"I was going to see a friend when the entire area shook
with a bang and a huge wall crumbled over me. When I regained my senses I found
myself here in this bed," Ali Badshah, a fifth-grade student, said from a
hospital in Mirpur where he was being treated for a broken leg.
Near Mirpur, roads were completely destroyed and vehicles
overturned by the tremors while bridges, mobile phone towers, and electricity
poles were also badly damaged in the melee.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Wednesday
that China is willing to provide assistance on the basis of Pakistan's need.
The quake sent people in Lahore and Islamabad running into the
streets, while tremors were also felt as far as New Delhi.
The Press Trust of India reported that panicking people rushed
out of their homes and offices in several places, including in Rajasthan,
Punjab, and Haryana states.
Pakistan straddles part of the boundary where the Indian and
Eurasian tectonic plates meet, making the country susceptible to earthquakes.
The country was also hit by a 7.6 magnitude quake on Oct 8, 2005, that killed
more than 73,000 people and left about 3.5 million homeless.