Death toll from massive Pakistani earthquake nears 350
Death toll rises The casualties from the massive earthquake that hit Pakistan on Tuesday continued to rise on Thursday with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan confirming that at least 348 people have died and 540 have been injured (AFP, BBC, Dawn, ET, NYT, Post, RFE/RL, VOA). Abdul Rasheed Gogazai, the deputy commissioner of the ...
Death toll rises
Death toll rises
The casualties from the massive earthquake that hit Pakistan on Tuesday continued to rise on Thursday with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan confirming that at least 348 people have died and 540 have been injured (AFP, BBC, Dawn, ET, NYT, Post, RFE/RL, VOA). Abdul Rasheed Gogazai, the deputy commissioner of the Awaran district in Balochistan — where the earthquake hit — told Reuters that 288 bodies have been recovered so far from that district alone (Reuters).
Reports have also emerged that two more islands have surfaced off the coast of Balochistan as a result of the earthquake (Dawn). The first island appeared off the Gwadar coast, while the two new islands are along the coasts of Ormara and Pasni. While many suspect the islands, which are primarily made of mud, will eventually be washed away, Mohammad Moazzam Khan, a technical adviser to the World Wide Fund for Nature, said more information would be available after technical teams examined the islands.
While Pakistani rescuers are struggling to reach the affected areas and provide survivors with food and water, the country’s relief effort is also coming under literal fire (AP). On Thursday, militants fired two rockets at a helicopter carrying National Disaster Management Authority chairman Maj. Gen. Muhammad Saeed Aleem as he traveled to the area to oversee earthquake relief work (AP, Dawn, ET). Both rockets missed their target and there have been no immediate claims of responsibility.
At least eight people were killed in the Indian-controlled section of Jammu on Thursday when militants dressed in army fatigues attacked a local police station (AFP, ET, RFE/RL, VOA). Indian Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that the suspects had crossed the border from Pakistan a day earlier. While there have been no claims of responsibility, Abdullah told reporters that the raid appeared to be designed to derail a planned meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Sindh and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in New York. For his part, Sindh condemned the attack but said it would not disrupt the "process of dialogue" (Dawn, Reuters).
Pakistan lodged a formal complaint with Afghanistan on Wednesday over the cross-border mortar fire that killed two people in North Waziristan on Tuesday (Pajhwok, RFE/RL). The statement stated that: "Such incidents undermined border coordination and cooperation and were detrimental to cooperative ties between the two brotherly countries." The protest followed another one filed last weekend over the killing of five Pakistani citizens in Balochistan, allegedly by Afghan security forces.
The regional government in Sindh province banned the issuance of new weapons licenses on Thursday, following continued disorder in Karachi (ET). Weeks of continued violence amid security operations to restore law and order to the city have also contributed to a boom in the demand for armored cars (ABC). Mohammed Khalid Yousuf, the head of a company that produces armored cars, explained that while in previous years only senior officials bought armored cars, "the law and order situation, especially in Karachi, is turning from bad to worse, and people who can afford it want their vehicles to get armored." Yousuf said his business has tripled in recent years. His company is one of at least six similar operations in Karachi and Islamabad that are working to fulfill the new demand.
The Hayat-Lifeline Campaign, a national initiative on sexual and reproductive health and rights in Pakistan, launched the country’s first sexual education curriculum on Wednesday at a national conference in Islamabad (ET). The curriculum was developed in cooperation with religious scholars, government officials, parents, teachers and youth, and is attempt to provide formal sex education for Pakistan’s youth population. The campaign was also endorsed by Faridullah Khan, the federal secretary of the Capital Development and Authority (CAD) ministry, as well as several former government officials.
A man wearing an Afghan army uniform fired upon coalition soldiers in Afghanistan’s Paktia province on Thursday, killing one U.S. serviceman, the second such attack in less than a week (Pajhwok, Reuters, RFE/RL). NATO released a statement saying: "The scene of the incident is secure and the suspected gunman has been killed." So far in 2013, there have been eight reported insider attacks on coalition personnel that have killed 13 people.
Alwar Pouryan, a former translator for the U.S. army, was sentenced on Wednesday to 25 years in prison for trying to sell weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles, to the Afghan Taliban (Reuters). Pouryan was arrested with seven other men in 2011 following an undercover U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) operation against drug trafficking in West Africa. He and a co-conspirator had arranged to provide $25 million of weapons and material to DEA agents, who they believed to be members of the Taliban.
Speaking at the Europe-Asia Economic Forum on Thursday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned that terrorism was, among other things, decelerating the region’s economic growth (Pajhwok). Karzai also endorsed Chinese President Xi Jinping’s proposal for a Silk Road Economic Belt and emphasized Afghanistan’s strides in promoting trade. In particular, he stated that: "We have rehabilitated our road and highway networks, constructed railway connections and expanded cross-border transportation infrastructures with the aim of facilitating transit and the flow of trade between regions."
Shortly after media outlets reported that Tuesday’s earthquake had created a small island off of Pakistan’s southern coast, the hashtag #possiblenamesofnewisland began trending on Twitter (ET). While the mud island will likely disappear, as others have in the past, that hasn’t stopped Pakistani citizens from making suggestions like "Jazeera-e-Namaloom Afraad" and "Shutter Island," a reference to a 2010 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
— David Sterman and Bailey Cahall
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