[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 October 2005, 22:27 GMT 23:27 UK
India hails Pakistani quake plan
Quake survivors
Hundreds of thousands have still to see help
India has welcomed Pakistan's offer to open the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir to help families find loved ones after the 8 October earthquake.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf made the offer, saying it would also boost reconstruction efforts.

"This is in line with India's advocacy of greater movement across the LoC," Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said.

More than 40,000 people are confirmed dead in the earthquake.

India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir and have fought two wars over it since independence, but began peace talks last year.

The BBC's Aamer Ahmed Khan in Karachi says that opening up the LoC could make a huge difference to the relief effort.

We will allow every Kashmiri to come across the Line of Control and assist in the reconstruction effort
President Musharraf

Our correspondent says much anger has been directed at Gen Musharraf's government after an Indian offer to deliver aid in helicopters foundered because Islamabad insisted on the pilots being Pakistani.

Meanwhile, Pakistan banned the export of tents as relief teams struggled to provide shelter for victims, particularly those stranded in remote mountain valleys. An estimated 1.5m tents are required.

The UN says about 500,000 people have yet to see any help. It has so far received just 5% of the money it says it needs to fund its relief operation.

Local officials in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir say the toll may be as high as 54,000. In Indian-administered Kashmir, officials say 1,400 people were killed.

Musharraf's offer

India, which had flown several planeloads of relief to Pakistan, was swift to welcome Gen Musharraf's proposal.
'WINTERISED' TENT
Heavy duty tent designed for long-term use by a single family
PVC groundsheet sewn onto the sides for wind proofing and to retain warmth
Some types are designed to accommodate cooking stoves
ICRC estimates that 30,000 such tents are required in Pakistan

Mr Sarna said it reflected India's support for "greater movement across the LoC for relief work and closer people-to-people contacts".

"India is willing to facilitate such movements but we await word from Pakistan about the practical details of implementing this intention."

Gen Musharraf's offer came after he visited the badly-damaged capital of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, Muzaffarabad.

Kashmiris, he said, should be able to cross at points other than the road between Srinagar on the Indian side and Muzaffarabad on the Pakistani side, the existing transit route in the region.

Race against time

On Tuesday, the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) said it was facing one of the toughest challenges it had ever faced - and time was running out for survivors.

HOW TO DONATE
Woman in Muzaffarabad
Disasters Emergency Committee (UK)
World Food Programme
Kashmir International Relief Fund
Red Cross/ Red Crescent

"There are an estimated half a million more people out there in desperate need, who no one has managed to reach," executive director James Morris said.

According to the UN, more than three million people have been left homeless. Pakistan says it needs thousands of special winterised tents from abroad to house families living in the open.

Improved weather on Tuesday meant that helicopters resumed operations in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Soldiers used mules to reach victims living in steep villages along some of the region's remote valleys where no medical help is available.


* Many roads in the affected area are damaged and/or impassable




RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific