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The BBC's Brian Barron in Gujarat
"Communications remain completely collapsed"
 real 56k

George Fernandes, Indian defence minister
"If one talks in terms of loss of human life then one is looking at perhaps 100 000 people"
 real 56k

Ben Wisner, International Geographical Union
"Building inspectors... are easily preyed upon by people who have bribes"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 00:11 GMT
India urges faster quake help
Seven-month-old Sweta Kumar, pulled from rubble in Bhachau, east of Bhuj
A baby was pulled from rubble in the town of Bhachau
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has called for relief work to be speeded up following the country's devastating earthquake, as several more survivors were dramatically rescued from ruined buildings.

Mr Vajpayee, speaking after touring wreckage in the western state of Gujarat, announced federal aid worth five billion rupees ($107.6m).


Work needs to be speeded up... There is a lack of relief work in the villages

Indian PM Atal Behari Vajpayee
Predictions of the final death from the quake have risen dramatically, after Defence Minister George Fernandes told the BBC that as many as 100,000 people may have died, with another 200,000 injured.

So far about 6,200 bodies have been pulled from the rubble, and hopes of finding many more survivors are dwindling rapidly, according to rescuers.

The earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale struck on Friday morning in the wealthy industrial state of Gujarat, flattening whole villages and toppling high-rise blocks in cities.

Visiting the devastated city of Bhuj, Mr Vajpayee renewed an appeal for $1.5 billion in aid from international banks - a fifth of which the World Bank has pledged to release forthwith.

The Indian army says it has now sent extra troops to help rescuers in remote areas.

'Miraculous survival'

At least four people were found alive on Monday, including an eight-month-old boy in Bhuj, and a seven-month-old girl dug from the rubble of her home in the nearby town of Bhachau.

In the case of the "miracle boy", as he is being called, doctors said the warmth of his dead mother's body helped him survive three days in the ruins of a collapsed building in Bhuj's Kansara Market.


Rescuers had earlier pulled to safety a 90-year-old woman, apparently saved by a sewing machine which shielded her head from falling masonry.

The baby girl was reunited with her delighted mother and father who had been outside their home when the earthquake struck.

But much of the work was excavating the dead, and emergency workers point out that any more rescues will be nothing short of miraculous.

"Chances of finding people are dimming by the hour," said Michelle Mercier, a member of a Swiss rescue team.

Mr Vajpayee toured the devastated areas by helicopter, as the focus shifted to rehabilitation and rebuilding operations.

He called on Indians to donate to a government fund for the victims.

Pakistan has said a special flight carrying relief goods will leave on Tuesday - after earlier confusion about whether or not the Indian Government would accept it.

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.

Survivors have complained of confusion surrounding the rescue and relief operations.

Aid is trickling in, but in some outlying areas villagers waited for relief trucks to reach them.

"We've got no food, no water," truck driver Yadav Raja Bhai said in a village 30 km (20 miles) from Bhuj.

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
"We've had no government help here."

In Bhuj, where at least 10,000 are thought to have died, there is no running water, no electricity, no shelter and limited food.

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

Panic

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

Rubble in Bhuj
Bhuj bore the brunt of the devastation
And in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, people rushed out of their homes and offices after a moderate tremor shook the city.

There were no injuries.

There have been an estimated 200 aftershocks - including one measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale - since the main earthquake last Friday.

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 one with a magnitude of 8.5 killed 1,538 people in north-eastern Assam state.

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See also:

29 Jan 01 | UK Politics
UK gives 10m to Indian quake victims
28 Jan 01 | South Asia
India seeks $1.5bn loan
29 Jan 01 | South Asia
Tragic lessons to be learnt
29 Jan 01 | Media reports
Press blames corruption for quake losses
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