Rescuers battled along badly damaged roads and combed through toppled buildings yesterday to reach victims of an earthquake that killed at least 37 people and injured hundreds more in northeast Pakistan. Authorities were still trying to assess the quake's impact in more remote parts of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, but in built-up areas the immediate damage was evident.
After a night of heavy rain compounded the misery of survivors, hundreds gathered to attend the funerals of residents killed near the city of Mirpur, about 130 kilometers southeast of the capital, Islamabad.
The 5.2 magnitude quake was not as strong as several that have struck the area over the years, but the epicenter was very shallow, which generally causes more damage. Near Mirpur, a well-developed city known for its palatial residences, many roads were destroyed, while bridges, mobile phone towers and electricity poles were also badly damaged. The village of Jatlan on the outskirts of Mirpur appeared to be one of the worst affected.
Pakistan straddles part of the boundary where the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, making the country susceptible to earthquakes. The country was hit by a 7.6-magnitude quake in 2005 that killed more than 73,000 people and left about 3.5 million homeless, mainly in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.