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Aftershocks disrupt rescue, survivor dies

October 13, 2005 16:22 IST
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A 22-year-old woman trapped in the rubble of a quake-hit building died Thursday after an overnight aftershock disrupted efforts to rescue her, rescuers and witnesses said.

British, German and Turkish teams had worked until 2 am, trying to extract the woman who had been detected by a sniffer dog in the debris in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir that was devastated in the earthquake on Saturday.

But they were forced to suspend their efforts for their own safety when a 5.6-magnitude aftershock, centred 135 km north of Islamabad, shifted the building in which they were working.

When the rescuers returned after daybreak, the search dog whined, indicating that it had detected the smell of a corpse.

Some rescue workers wept. "It was a very difficult decision to leave a living person and I had a responsibility to my team. It could have meant their death," said Steff Hopkins, a British team leader.

The rescuers had not been able to speak to or see the trapped woman. But her distraught uncle, Mushtaq Mir, identified her as Umbra and said she was in the building at the time.

The overnight aftershock shook buildings, but no new damage was immediately reported. There have been dozens of aftershocks since the weekend disaster, which killed tens of thousands of people.

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