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Rescue almost over; relatives won't give up

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October 14, 2005 16:35 IST

Survivors of the deadly temblor that killed close to 50,000 people continue to dig through the rubble day and night hoping to pull out those still trapped alive.

Even as emergency rescue workers, toiling round-the-clock to retrieve survivors from under concrete and dirt tombs, almost called off search in various quake-hit areas of

Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and concentrated on relief missions, the victims who lived through the Saturday quake kept on to their own digging, unable to let go of hope of rescuing their trapped loved ones.

However, the truth is now sinking in at the ground level- that six days after the powerful temblor hit Pakistan and PoK- rescue efforts now will have to give way to fast-paced relief and rehabilitation in view of the approaching mountain cold.

But, dazed survivors who also witnessed several nerve rattling aftershocks, seem not to be able to come to terms with the fact that the efforts to rescue those trapped will stop some day.

"My mother is still buried under that rubble, how can they not at least try and reach through to her," a teary-eyed Shahida Perveen of Bagh village of PoK was quoted as saying by the local media.

However, Pakistan military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan has denied that the government was calling off rescue operations.

The biting cold is already there in the mountain districts of PoK, what isn't are tents to make a temporary shelter against winter, besides water and food, which survivors say is in severe shortage in most cut-off regions, as the army helicopters are racing against time to air-drop relief material to remote areas.

All along the roads to Muzaffarabad, weary survivors were seen trudging along, some carrying little remains of their properties, bundled up in dirty clothes, supporting the injured and all trying to beat time in reaching some army camps where food and water would be available.

"We keep hearing that help is on its way, our village is almost completely destroyed, and we were left with no options but to ourselves cross the rugged terrain to Muzaffarabad," Zafar Iqbal of Balakot said.

The Pakistan government has decided to set up 'tent cities' to shelter the homeless.

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