Pakistan official: Quake deaths likely
to top 300
ZIARAT, Pakistan (AP) — Doctors said
Friday they were running out of drugs and
artificial limbs for victims of the
earthquake in southwestern Pakistan amid
fears that the death toll would climb
The 6.4-magnitude quake hit a poor
mountainous region near the Afghan border
before dawn Wednesday. It destroyed 3,000
houses and made about 15,000 people
Troops and relief agencies have
scrambled to help communities in remote
valleys, from where provincial minister
Zamrak Khan said reports of fatalities
were still arriving.
Khan said the bodies of 215 people
killed had been buried so far. However, he
said reports from four badly hit districts
indicated that others had been interred
without informing authorities and that the
real toll was "somewhere above 300."
Authorities are distributing
thousands of tents, blankets, coats and
food packages to keep people alive as
nighttime temperatures fall to the
freezing point. Many in more distant
valleys have already spent two nights
without shelter and doctors said children
were falling ill.
At a small clinic in the devastated
village of Kawas, Dr. Nek Mohammed said he
had treated 300 minors since Thursday and
that he hoped medicine would arrive soon.
"Most of them are developing the
symptoms of pneumonia and that is
inevitable given the serious cold they are
exposed to," Mohammed said, as scores of
people squatted outside waiting for a
Those seriously injured when their
houses fell down around them have been
taken to the regional capital, Quetta,
some 50 miles (80 kilometers) away. Even
there, doctors said they were stretched.
Zainullah Kakar of the city's Bolan
Medical College said it had 90 trauma
"We are running short of antibiotics
and other drugs. We need artificial limbs.
We need metal plates and rods to treat
broken arms and legs," Kakar said.
The relief effort for the survivors
began in earnest on Thursday. There is
concern that the tents delivered so far
will prove too light to keep people going
through the impending winter, when much of
the affected area will be covered in snow.
In Wam Kotal, a village in the
shadow of a towering mountain, one family
decided that they would be fools to wait.
Haji Abdul Latif, a turbaned
60-year-old, watched as a son and a nephew
began clearing the rubble of their house
with the intention of rebuilding as soon
A can of pesticide used to keep
insects off the area's ubiquitous apple
orchards was recovered and set aside.
"We have no option except to help
ourselves. Snow will start falling soon
and we have no place to live," he said,
dismissing the tent where 10 of his family
members crammed in to sleep.
The need for shelter has been
swelled by villagers too scared by
frequent aftershocks to sleep in the
houses spared by the earthquake.
Amjad Aziz, a 42-year-old teacher,
said he was sleeping in his car while his
wife and six children bedded down at night
in a rented tent pitched near their house
in Ziarat, the main town in the affected
"I know these are aftershocks and
not new earthquakes, and I also know these
tremors may continue for a while, but it
is hard to convince children that they
will be safe," Aziz said.
A poorly managed aid effort in
Baluchistan could add to anti-government
sentiment as the country's new leaders
battle violence by Islamist extremists and
try to fix mounting economic problems.
The affected area of Baluchistan
province is inhabited mainly by Pashtuns,
the same ethnic group from which the
Taliban draws most of its strength.
However, the region has been spared the
level of militant violence seen in other
tribal areas along the Afghan border.
Members of hard-line Islamist
political parties and groups, including
one listed by the United States as a
terrorist organization, were among the
first to aid quake victims.
The same groups helped out in the
aftermath of a quake that killed 80,000
people in Kashmir and northern Pakistan in
2005, something analysts say gave them