SYNOPSIS: Karakoram Ranges. Indus valley between these snow-clad mountains was the worst affected by the?
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Background: SYNOPSIS: Karakoram Ranges. Indus valley between these snow-clad mountains was the worst affected by the earthquake on Saturday evening (December 28). The villages of Swat and Hazara districts which were worst affected included areas covered by Patan, Shoregarh, Dobair, Jajal, Kayal, Kiru, Mondoza, Zaidkhar and Polas. The affected area stretches over a length of 70 miles and extends from Beesham to Baressem.
Patan is a small township in Swat District, situated at about twenty-three hundred feet above the sea level. Its inhabitants are hardy and speak Pushto and Kohistani languages. The occupation of the majority of them is agriculture and they grow mostly maize and wheat. Some of them herdsmen. Until the evening of Saturday, Patan was a living township with population of about 10 thousand but now it is all ruins. a strong termor hit the area when most of the people were inside their houses or shops or were offering prayers (Namaz). A number of people were buried under the debris, of whom several died and the rest were wounded. According to reports so far, in this township alone 500 people were killed and two thousand injured. About three hundred houses were damaged severely. Pakistan Television representatives visited the area on Monday and reported that there was hardly a household which has not lost some of its member in the tragedy.
The highest casualty figure is reported to be from Zaidkhar, Mandoza and Kiru area with a population of 15 thousand, where one thousand are reported to have been killed and three thousand injured. Similarly in Dobair and Jajal with a 20 thousand population one thousand people are reported dead and four thousand others injured.
In the adjoining Polas area with a population of 30 thousand, about one thousand and five hundred people have been killed and three thousand injured.
The earthquake also caused landslides as a result of which a 45-mile stretch of the Karakoram Highway was blocked at several places and traffic has been disrupted on this route. A number of vehicles have been stranded on the way because of the obstacles created by the landslides.
Shortly after the news of the tragedy relief operation was undertaken. Medical aid on emergency basis was provided to the injured persons. Relief work is now going on day and night and relief material is being rushed to the affected areas by helicopters. The material includes blankets, clothes, tents, edibles and life saving drugs. At Patan, a field hospital of Pakistan Army is set up to take care of the wounded people and doctors are working day and night. The Federal and Provincial Governments have made special arrangements for medical relief and other supplies to the affected people. Another Army field hospital has been set up at Beesham.
Prime Minister Mr. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is scheduled to arrive at Patan today (Dec 31) after cancelling his engagements in the southern city of Karachi. The Governor of the North Western province, where the earthquake has taken place, also visited the affected areas. He met the aggrieved families and assured them on behalf of Prime Minister Bhutto that the government will do everything possible for their help.