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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 October 2005, 07:51 GMT 08:51 UK
India troops 'help Pakistan army'
Sakina Mir, right, is hugged by a relative in Srinagar before returning to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir
Kashmiri people are desperate to be allowed to cross the border
Indian troops have crossed the Line of Control dividing Kashmir to help Pakistani soldiers rebuild their quarters, the Indian army says.

The move follows the massive earthquake on Saturday which killed at least 23,000 people in South Asia.

Both countries have also eased travel curbs, allowing some Kashmiri families to return home via Punjab.

A new earth tremor thought to be an aftershock has been felt in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties from the quake recorded at 0123 local time Thursday (2023 GMT Wednesday) by the US Geological Survey.

With a magnitude of 5.6 and centring on an area 135km north of the city, it was the strongest tremor recorded since the weekend in Pakistan which has felt several dozen aftershocks.

Limited access

According to the Indian army, the Pakistani soldiers invited the Indians to help them rebuild some of their bunkers after sleeping in the open in increasingly cold temperatures.

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Normally, such a crossing would have resulted in bloodshed, says the BBC's Sanjeev Srivastava in Srinagar.

The Indian army expressed frustration that it could not do more.

One soldier pointed towards Muzaffarabad, the devastated capital of the Pakistani part of Kashmir, and said Indian helicopters could reach it with supplies within 15 minutes.

Instead, they are not permitted to cross the Line of Control.

In Muzaffarabad survivors are desperate for any aid

With the bridge connecting the Indian and Pakistani sectors of Kashmir destroyed, Delhi and Islamabad both also waived travel restrictions to allow some Kashmiri families to return home through the Wagah border in Punjab.

Our correspondent adds that there is growing demand for easier access across the divided valley, allowing people to cross over to try to help loved ones on the other side.

Eating grass to survive

In Balakot, close to the epicentre in Pakistan, US helicopters have been used for the first time to ferry in supplies and carry out the wounded.

But in outlying areas relief has yet to arrive.

HOW TO DONATE
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Disasters Emergency Committee (UK)
World Food Programme
Kashmir International Relief Fund
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Mukhtar Ali Khan, a resident of Alai, a town in Mansehra district in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province, walked for 11 hours to seek help.

He told the BBC's Urdu service that there were bodies strewn all over the town and the survivors were starving and yet no help had arrived.

"I have seen people eating grass - people are dying of starvation," he said.

A similar situation was reported in Kohistan where survivors are looting shops in a hunt for supplies.

Relief work got a boost on Wednesday when the Karakoram highway linking Pakistan with China through northern areas was re-opened after landslides and mudslides.

In Balakot, relief is finally getting through but such is the scale of the disaster that thousands of injured people are still waiting for medical treatment, says the BBC's Andrew North.

Our correspondent says doctors at the clinic can only offer first aid and they can only hope helicopters will ferry them away in time.





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