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11 October, 2005

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The nation is still reeling from stunning magnitude of the disaster caused by a massive earthquake, said to be the most powerful to hit the region in 100 years, as thousands of rescue workers are digging through mud, rocks, and debris to find out thousands of dead and injured caught up underneath in Azad Kashmir and northern Pakistan.

According to initial estimates, some 50,000 deaths have been confirmed, mostly in Azad Kashmir, and once the beautiful valleys of northern Pakistan, whereas it is feared that the death toll may rise to much higher number.

Hundreds of thousands of victims of this deadliest disaster are lying under open sky as rescue teams have not so far managed to reach in various earthquake-hit areas due to continuous rains and land sliding, which have aggravated the gravity of the calamity.

Repeated aftershocks have compelled the victims to remain outdoor even in comparatively lesser effected areas of NWFP and Islamabad.

Except for some 2,000 who perished in Mansehra, Balakot, and adjoining areas in the NWFP, all the casualties took place in Azad Kashmir, where the epicenter of the killer earthquake lay.

In Muzaffarabad, and Rawlakot, almost 80 per cent of houses, government buildings, hospitals and shops have collapsed and frightened residents are spending chilly nights camped in fields, parks, graveyards and cars.

A senior United Nations official says that the death toll in the AJK might well exceed 30,000.

Though, the international community, including USA, has joined the massive rescue and relief operations, the government appeared to be unprepared and responded late and inadequately to the crisis as even the Information Minister was not aware of the disaster till 11:30 am. The corps commander Peshawar claimed on the second day of the calamity that merely 1000 people have been killed in NWFP, and that media is exaggerating the death toll.

Reports reaching here suggest that rescue operation has not so far been commenced in several affected areas.

Q-1, Are you satisfied with the government's response to the tragedy?
Q-2 Have we responded to the disaster as a united nation?
Q-3 What measures could be taken to minimize the disaster in case of more earthquakes?
Q-4 What should be done for rehabilitation of millions of homeless victims?

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