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Pak toll crosses 25,000; Govt plans new cities in PoK

Source: PTI
Last updated on: October 14, 2005 04:57 IST
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Pakistan government is mulling over a proposal to move thousands of survivors of the killer earthquake in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to Punjab and Sindh provinces and build new cities, including the destroyed PoK capital Muzaffarabad even as the official death toll crossed 25,000.

As international aid poured in and relief efforts stepped up, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said Pakistan planned to build new cities in PoK and the North West Frontier Province rather than rebuilding the old ones, which had been completely destroyed in the 7.6 magnitude earthquake.

Since over 80 to 85 per cent of the government and private buildings had been destroyed in the region, the government was left with the task of locating survivors, clearing the dead bodies and later shifting millions of tonnes of concrete rubble out through narrow and congested hill terrain.

He assured that proper land would be provided to the actual inhabitants while rebuilding the cities.

In the 345-year-old PoK capital, Muzaffarabad, all government structures, including the residences of the President, Prime Minister, Secretariat, courts, jails, and the assembly buildings were destroyed in the quake.

Media reports in Islamabad said PoK President Sardar Anwar and Prime Minister Sikandar Hayat had already shifted to Islamabad, while other ministers, legislators and political leaders followed suit.

PoK Minister Shirin Wahid, her husband and thirteen close relatives and twelve relatives of Prime Minister's adviser Raja Farooq Haider were killed in the earthquake.

Once the proposal to shift the survivors of the 2.2 million population of PoK to different areas of Pakistan is approved, the rescued people would be temporarily shifted to tent cities in  different parts of Punjab and Sindh so that rehabilitation work could be completed without any hurdle, local Jung daily reported.

Officials said due to geographical condition of the PoK, moving heavy machinery, cranes, bulldozers in mountainous terrain was not possible. Access routes to various areas are still closed.

The government considered a proposal to move people because life would be difficult as it was not possible to remove decomposing bodies across the province.

The defence ministry meanwhile, announced that death toll had gone up to 25,188.

Over 53,000 people had so far has been identified as injured.

According to the area-wise break up of figures, 17,638 were declared dead in PoK and 40,772 were inured midway through the relief operations.

In the North West Frontier Province, located close to PoK, 7044 were reported dead and 11,325 injured. In the capital Islamabad, 33 were killed in collapse of multi-storey building and 89 injured. The rest of the casualties were reported in Punjab and Northern areas.

In addition to these casualties, Pakistan Army's 452 men have been killed while 730 have been injured.

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