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The numbers are incredible – earthquake toll 18K to top 30K

UPDATE (10/9, 9:30AM): Asian Quake Death Toll at Least 20,000.

Pakistan called Saturday’s magnitude-7.6 earthquake the country’s worst on record, and the president appealed for urgent help. Rival India, which reported more than 465 dead, offered assistance.

“I have been informed by my department that more than 30,000 people have died in Kashmir,” Tariq Mahmmod, communications minister for the Himalayan region, told The Associated Press.

In mountainous Kashmir, the quake flattened dozens of villages and towns, crushing schools and mud-brick houses. The dead included 250 girls at a school razed to the ground and more than 200 Pakistani soldiers on duty in the Himalayas.

The quake was felt across a wide swath of South Asia from central Afghanistan to western Bangladesh. It swayed buildings in the capitals of three nations, with the damage spanning at least 250 miles from Jalalabad in Afghanistan to Srinagar in northern Indian territory. In Islamabad, a 10-story building collapsed.

“We are handling the worst disaster in Pakistan’s history,” chief army spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan said.

Officials said Balakot was one of the hardest-hit areas. Near the ruins of one collapsed school, at least a dozen bodies were strewn on the streets of the devastated village of about 30,000. At least 250 pupils were feared trapped inside the rubble of the four-story school.

***

Yesterday: CNN was just told this.

The earthquake that hit northern Pakistan and India on Saturday killed 18,000 people in Pakistan, President Pervez Musharraf’s spokesman told CNN. About 40,000 people were injured in the 7.6 magnitude quake that struck nearly 24 hours ago, said the spokesman, Major-General Shaukat Sultan.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding