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Relief picks up momentum amidst reports of exodus

By K J M Varma in Islamabad
October 12, 2005 19:42 IST
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With hopes of finding survivors fading, rescuers on Wednesday shifted their focus on relief missions to help the victims of the deadly weekend earthquake in Pakistan amidst reports of exodus of thousands of people from the worst-hit Pakistan occupied Kashmir to cities and plains in the country.

International aid from about 30 countries poured into Pakistan but the survivors of the 7.6 magnitude quake of Saturday complained about the pace of the relief work which was earlier hampered due to torrential rains that lashed the region on Tuesday.

However, as helicopters began distributing essential supplies after skies got cleared on Wednesday, the relief mission picked up momentum in Pakistan and PoK.

Rescuers have shifted focus on the relief missions after hopes of finding people alive from the debris of the collapsed
buildings faded.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz visited a relief centre in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the quake's epicentre.

His visit to the ruined city came aimdst reports that people numbering in thousands were moving out of Muzaffarabad to safer cities and plains like Rawalpindi and Abbotabad.

Pointing out that the winter is fast approaching, Aziz said the relief mission would have to be turned into rehabilitation operation.

Aziz, who had on Tuesday said that 23,000 people had died in the quake and 51,000 injured, praised the response of local and international emergency workers who rushed to Pakistan to help it.

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K J M Varma in Islamabad
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