A magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan, on October 8, 2005, at 8:50 a.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The epicenter of the earthquake was located near Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, and approximately 60 miles north-northeast of the national capital, Islamabad. Aftershocks continued in the affected areas. The delivery of humanitarian assistance ws constricted by the mountainous area, cold weather, and damaged or collapsed infrastructure. The most affected areas are the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), Northern Punjab, and Pakistani Kashmir in Pakistan, and Indian Kashmir in India.
By 13 October 2005 the areas north of Balakot, Kohistan, and Kala Dhaka were the only affected locations that had not yet been reached by rescue operations. Between Balakot and Besham, almost half of the houses are totally destroyed. The Karakoran Highway, which had been blocked due to a landslide 10 km north of Balakot for five days, was cleared on October 12. Populations from destroyed mountain villages began to arrive in Balakot, NWFP. Internal reports indicated that hundreds of thousands of villagers had arrived in Balakot, which had a pre-earthquake population of 40,000. According to international media sources, the villagers report having to leave the dead and injured behind in the destroyed villages, which had not been reached by rescue teams.
The town of Balakot is in North West Frontier Province. In Balakot, survivors stored wood and burned the abundance of donated clothing that littered the streets for heating instead. Pakistani Soldiers used mules to get much needed relief supplies to earthquake victims in remote mountainous areas of this country. One team left 20 October 2005 after U.S. military helicopters flew relief supplies here. The 08 October 2005 earthquake devastated parts of Pakistan, India and Kashmir. The US military is played a key role in transporting relief supplies into the country, and then using helicopters to get it to remote areas.
Telecoms Sans Frontieres [Telecoms Without Borders] arrived in Pakistan and installed a satellite Telecoms Center for rescue teams near Muzaffarabad heliport where hundreds of injured people are waiting to be evacuated. In Muzaffarabad, GSM functioned only at times leaving emergency response actors with no priority phone lines and Internet connection have no yet been re-established. It was therefore necessary to deploy satellite means to facilitate flow of information and rescue teams and UN agencies coordination. Satellite connection necessary to rescue teams and UN agencies. In Balakot, one of TSF's mobile crews offered 125 priority calls to survivors. Calls to non affected Pakistani towns and also to Saudi Arabia enabled to give news and will help in receiving personalized assistance. Humanitarian phoning operations continued in Balakot, in Manshera, Muzaffarabad and affected villages nearby depending accessibility.
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