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25 dead and serious material damage in Pakistan earthquake

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Rescue operations are continuing hard in eastern Pakistan, a region hit by a 5.2 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday that killed 25 people and caused serious material damage.

Heavy rain fell in the area on Tuesday night, complicating the movement of rescue teams on the roads that have become ornament and increased the difficulties faced by the population. These rains will continue in the coming days.

Hundreds of people gathered on Wednesday for a funeral near Mirpur, the big city in Pakistani Kashmir where schools were closed. “It is like a doomsday for us,” Mohammad Azzam, who attended the funeral, told AFP. “The dear ones who have left will never return,” he said.

The official at the National Disaster Management Authority, Lieutenant-General Mohammad Afzal, said 25 people were killed and 350 wounded, including 80 in critical condition.

He said hundreds of houses had been damaged or destroyed, including 136 completely destroyed.

Information Minister Ferdous Asheq Awan spoke of 500 wounded, saying that compensation would be paid to survivors.

– Fifty thousand people affected –

The influx of victims to local hospitals placed in an emergency.

“A big bang shook the whole area and collapsed on a wall. When I regained consciousness, I found myself on this bed,” said Ali Badshash, a student treated for a broken leg at Mirpur hospital.

In the nearby village of Gatlan, which suffered heavy losses, residents were searching through the rubble for items they owned, while others scrutinized cracks on the walls of their homes.

“I lost my house. I lost everything,” said Abdullah Khan, who lives in Gatlan and completely destroyed his plant.

“We don’t even have tents and we are forced to stay outside. All the food we have is damaged,” said Shamriz Akhtar, 43, referring to large cracks in the walls of his house.

AFP journalists saw military personnel carrying tents sent to the quake victims.

The epicenter of the quake was located about 20 kilometers north of the city of Jhelum on the border between Pakistan’s Punjab and Kashmir, according to the American Institute of Geological Studies. It took place at a depth of ten kilometers.

Near Mirpur, a number of roads were destroyed and enormous craters spread. The Pakistani military said it had deployed its engineer battalion for immediate repairs.

“At least 50,000 people have been affected and the infrastructure has been badly damaged,” Chaudhry Rochsar, a member of the Kashmir Council, told AFP.

In some areas, electricity and communication networks were definitely out, he said.

The deputy head of Mirpur administration, Caesar Aurangzab, said rescue teams had just arrived at one of the remote villages in the area and were studying the situation there.

– Prone to earthquakes –

Pakistan is located on the border between the tectonic plates of India and Eurasia so it is prone to earthquakes.

More than 73,000 people were killed and some 3.5 million others lost their homes after a 7.6 magnitude earthquake on October 8, 2005, on the border between Kashmir and neighboring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Residents of Pakistan’s two largest cities, Lahore and Islamabad, felt the tremor on Tuesday and a number of residents quickly moved out of their homes.

The quake was also felt in New Delhi.

According to the Indian news agency “Trust of India” that the residents emerged panic from their homes and offices in a number of Indian areas, especially in Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana.

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