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The BBC's Mike Wooldridge
"Medical facilities are now practically non existent in the city of Bhuj"
 real 56k

Gujarat Home Minister Harin Pandya
"There's only a very rare chance of finding people alive."
 real 28k

Leo Bashyam, Head of Asia Section, Christain Aid
"Some of the town has been completely destroyed"
 real 56k

Monday, 29 January, 2001, 11:14 GMT
Desperate search for quake survivors
Residents of bhuji queue for food handouts
Residents of Bhuj queue for food handouts
The rescue operation for survivors of the devastating earthquake in the Western Indian state of Gujarat is getting increasingly desperate.

Fours days after the earthquake hit, Indian officials and foreign relief workers say hopes are fading of finding more survivors.


There is a very, very, very rare chance of getting someone alive from under the debris. The main problem were are facing now is a communication disruption

Haren Pandya, Gujarat Home Minister

However, in a glimmer of hope, rescue teams in Bhuj, the city near the epicentre of the quake, pulled two more people alive from collapsed buildings.

A Swiss team saved a young girl and the Indian army found a 90-year-old woman, apparently saved by a sewing machine which shielded her head from falling rubble.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has been touring Gujarat's largest city Ahmedabad and Bhuj inspecting the damage.

It is now feared that as many as 20,000 people may have died, and there are thousands of bodies still buried under collapsed buildings.

Mr Vajpayee repeated appeals for $1.5bn from international loans and called on Indians to donate to a government fund for the Gujarati victims.

Click here to send us your experience of the earthquake

A BBC correspondent says India's public finances were not prepared for a shock like this, and reconstruction will be a huge task.

On Sunday, big new tremors, hunger and thirst added to the anguish of tens of thousands of homeless earthquake survivors.

Foreign rescue teams joined the search for survivors in the rubble of western India's worst hit towns and cities.

Five people, however, were rescued in Bhuj. Another was found alive in Ahmedabad, and two survivors unearthed in Anjar - one of them a three year old girl.

"She was chanting some Arabic verses," said a soldier who participated in the rescue. "She was totally unscathed."

Relief aid
Some aid is getting through but much more is needed
Officials estimate about 10,000 people have died in Bhuj alone - others say more.

They say 95% of buildings in the city are uninhabitable.

The living are struggling to dispose of the dead. Across the town large funeral pyres are being lit.

Survivors say they have hundreds of bodies to cremate and fear of disease is now growing.

Relief is starting to arrive, but facilities in Bhuj are minimal. There is no running water, no electricity, no shelter and limited food.

Many survivors are simply fleeing the town, taking with them whatever belongings they can carry.

Reports suggest outlying villages in this region of Gujurat have been just as badly hit and they are still waiting for outside aid to arrive.

Foreign aid

On Monday, residents of the southeast Pakistan city of Hyderabad - some 300km (180 miles) northwest of Bhuj - fled their homes in panic, terrified that another earthquake was about to hit.

The Indian Government announced it was seeking a $1.5bn loan from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to help reconstruction of the devastated areas.

Earthquake deaths
17,000 died in Turkey in 1999
India's most deadly recent quake saw 10,000 die in 1993
The 1993 disaster was the most deadly quake to hit South Asia since 1935
Rebuilding and repairing schools, hospitals and government buildings will be a huge task.

The country is facing months, possibly years of recovery work following the earthquake.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said that the cost of the earthquake to the Indian economy would probably exceed $800m.

Massive operation

Despite a massive relief operation launched by the Indian authorities, the rescue effort is struggling to cope with the scale of the disaster and some of the worst-hit areas are still without any help.

India aid effort
5,000 soldiers
40 military aircraft including helicopters and transport planes
Three navy ships
11.5 tonnes of medical supplies to Bhuj
750 doctors and paramedics to Bhuj
There have been an estimated 200 aftershocks - including one measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale which created widespread panic - since last Friday's main earthquake.

The initial quake, measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale, was felt in neighbouring Pakistan, where authorities said 12 people had died, and as far away as Nepal and Bangladesh.

It was the most powerful quake to strike India since 1950, when an 8.5 magnitude quake killed 1,538 people in north-eastern Assam state.

It appears to be the world's most deadly earthquake since about 17,000 people died in Turkey in 1999.

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See also:

29 Jan 01 | South Asia
Prosperous Gujarat laid low
28 Jan 01 | South Asia
India seeks $1.5bn loan
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