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All resources being utilised for rescue, relief

All resources being utilised for rescue, relief operation: Sherpao

ISLAMABAD, Oct 9 (APP): Federal Minister for Interior Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao said Sunday that all the resources are being utilised for the relief, rescue and rehabilitation operation being carried out throughout the country. Briefing the journalists after an emergency Cabinet meeting here the minister said the amount of Prime Minister's relief package has been increased from Rs 1 billion to Rs 5 billion. It will be spent on compensation and reconstruction of the destroyed property. He said that Rs 100,000 would be paid as compensation to the relatives of each person, who died during the earthquake. Sherpao said that the cabinet has decided that three-day mourning will be held for this national tragedy. He said that he will daily brief the media about the latest on rescue and relief operation.

Sherpao further said that besides utilising the indigenous resources to best of our abilities,Pakistan has sought help from foreign countries to expedite the rescue and relief work.Giving details about the foreign relief aid, he said rescue teams and relief goods are coming from United Kingdom, France,Turkey, Jordan,China, Russia, Japan and United States. Sherpao further said that Afghanistan will provide some helicopters to Pakistan for carrying out rescue and relief operation in the areas where roads could not be reopened so far. He said that the rescue and relief operation was a challenging task as most of the roads in the earthquake-hit areas are blocked.

About death toll, he said so far 19,136 deaths have been confirmed while 42,397 persons are injured. However he told the journalists that this figure may increase with the passage of time. Sherpao said that Azad Jammu and Kashmir has been the worst- hit by the Saturday's massive earthquake.According to an estimate over 70 per cent houses in Muzaffarabad have been destroyed,and in Rawalakot and Bagh Districts 60 per cent houses have been reduced to rubble, the minister added. In AJK alone 17,388 persons have lost their lives, while 40,421 persons have been injured. In NWFP 1,760 persons have lost their lives while 1,797 persons were injured, the minister said adding in Mansehra 70 per cent houses have been destroyed by the earthquake while in Abbottabad 50 per cent houses have been razed to the ground.

Sherpao said that in Islamabad the figure of death toll from Margalla Towers collapse was 19 with 94 persons injured. Interior Minster said that 11 persons lost their lives in the Punjab, with 83 injured. In Northern Areas there are reports of two fatalities and as many injuries due to the earthquake. About Army losses in Azad Kashmir, the minister said that overall 200 armymen lost their lives -114 in Muzaffarabad and 86 in Rawlakot and Bagh areas. The minister told the newsmen that President and Prime Minister are constantly monitoring the situation. President Musharraf had just returned from NWFP after taking aerial view of the quake-affected areas of the province and Prime Minster Shaukat Aziz has left to take aerial view of calamity-hit areas of AJK and NWFP, he added.

He said that the Federal Cabinet has donated one- month salary to the President's fund for relief of quake victims. The Interior Minster said that Army helicopters are being used to airlift injured persons to the hospitals and for dropping cooked food to inaccessible areas in AJK and Hazara Division of NWFP. He said that Army troops have been called out for carrying out rescue and relief operation in the calamity-hit areas of the country. Army Engineers, Directorate General Health, Surgeon General have been involved in the relief work, he said adding that field hospitals in the NWFP and AJK are being opened by the army. He told the journalists that restoration of road and telecommunication network was the top priority of the government. Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) and National Highway Authority (NHA) are striving to reopen roads for traffic, he added. Sherpao said that 200 satellite public call offices (PCOs) were being opened in AJK and NWFP on the emergency basis so that phone link with these areas could be restored at the earliest.

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