Ehsan Ullah / AFP / Getty Images

Quake death toll rises as Afghanistan-Pakistan survivors await aid

Number of deaths from Monday's disaster reached 385 as rough terrain, cold weather pose problems for relief efforts

Afghanistan and Pakistan scrambled Wednesday to rush aid to survivors of this week's magnitude-7.5 earthquake as the region's overall death toll from the disaster rose to 385.

Pakistan's disaster management authority said the nation's dead now stood at 267, with 220 people killed in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and another 47 elsewhere in the country.

Afghanistan has reported 115 dead and 556 wounded, while three people died on the Indian side of the disputed region of Kashmir.

The head of the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority, Wais Ahmad Barmak, told Kabul’s parliament that 7,630 homes had been destroyed and around 1,000 animals killed. In battered northwestern Pakistan, more than 10,000 homes were damaged, as well as 147 schools, officials said.

Monday’s quake was centered in Afghanistan's sparsely populated Badakhshan province bordering Pakistan, Tajikistan and China.

The poverty-stricken region is vast, with mountains and valleys that make it difficult to reach affected areas. Taliban fighters are active in the area, further complicating access, Barmak said.

Survey teams have been sent to assess casualties and damage in areas that can be reached only on foot or donkey. Once the information they bring back has been assessed, food and non-food supplies would be delivered, Barmak said.

Earthquakes and other disasters, including floods and landslides, frequently strike Badakhshan. Other Afghan regions such as Nuristan and Kunar provinces in the east were also presenting access challenges, Barmak told parliament. 

In Pakistan, officials said rescue teams had reached most of the communities in the mountain regions in which the earthquake hit. Many survivors made homeless by the quake faced a third night outdoors in cold weather.

"Almost all roads have been made passable now," said General Hidayatur Rehman, military commander for the worst hit region in the northwest near the Afghan border. "We will try to reach all survivors."

However, a quake victim in Shangla, one of the most efffected districts of Pakistan's northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told Al Jazeera that their situation was getting worse due to the extreme cold and lack of relief aid.  

"We are still waiting for food, blankets and other necessary things for us to survive. It is extremely cold and it's been raining," Wahab Hayat told Al Jazeera. "We are in dire need of help. The earthquake is not over for us yet. It shook our world."

We are in dire need of help. The earthquake is not over for us yet. It shook our world.

Wahab Hayat

Earthquake victim

According to a statement by UNICEF, heavy rain and snow have been pounding the remote, mountainous areas affected by the quake for the past two days.

"We are extremely concerned for the safety and wellbeing of children, who are already the most at risk in any disaster and are now in danger of succumbing to the elements as temperatures plummet," said Karin Hulshof, UNICEF's regional director for South Asia.

Meanwhile, funerals of the victims continued Wednesday and in Pakistan's worst hit town of Shangla, residents demanded the government's help to rebuild their homes.

According to Pakistan's disaster management authority, the quake damaged 10,586 houses in the country's northwest. In Shangla, 49 people were killed and 228 injured.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the northwestern city of Peshawar on Wednesday to attend a briefing on quake damages. In televised comments, he pledged his government would provide "maximum compensation" to the victims.

"We are going to start the provision of compensation to those whose homes were damaged," he said, adding that 200,000 rupees (about $2,000) would be given to each person to rebuild their homes. 

Al Jazeera and wire services. Al Jazeera's Shereena Qazi contributed to this report. 

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