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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2005, 18:01 GMT
UN raises hopes over quake relief
Survivors outside their tent in Muzaffarabad
The UN says winter is now the greatest threat to survivors
The UN says its earthquake relief operation in South Asia is achievable, although the task remains "colossal".

Emergency coordinator Jan Vandemoortele spoke of "cautious optimism" for the first time since 8 October. "It's not mission impossible," he told reporters.

Aid agencies say they still desperately need more money for shelter, however, to stop people freezing to death.

Earlier, Pakistan's government said it could not confirm reports that the death toll had jumped to 87,000.

If we can keep the momentum, we will be ready for the winter
UN emergency co-ordinator Jan Vandemoortele

An estimated three million people are homeless in the earthquake zone, and many are yet to receive help.

UN officials have warned that the death toll may rise further as winter approaches.

'Cash needed'

Mr Vandemoortele told a news conference in Islamabad: "The job is colossal, but there's a feeling it's a doable job.

"To get it done we need two things, cash and co-ordination."

He said progress was "for real", but he added: "One month on, the scale of the disaster is still emerging, the casualty numbers are still going up and we have not reached the final number yet."

The UN and other humanitarian organisations have complained of lack of funds and Western countries have been accused of being slow to back up pledges with cash.

The UN has stepped up its appeal for more money to help build shelters, warning that an estimated 350,000 people still need accommodation.

Body count

Confusion over the official figures emerged earlier on Tuesday after a finance ministry adviser, Iqbal Ahmed Khan, put the death toll at 87,000.

Pakistani police fire tear gas at Titrinote on the Line of Control in Kashmir
There was trouble when the LoC was partially opened on Monday

He said his information came from officials from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

The banks, working with local government and aid agencies, said they found previously unlisted casualties in areas which had been cut off by landslides, Mr Khan said.

However, a spokesman for Pakistan's Federal Relief Commission told the BBC News website that the official toll was still just over 73,276.

"Our figures depend on the actual body count," Col Baseer Malik said.

"I can't give you any justification for why [the banks] are giving these figures."

The federal government's figures have been consistently lower than those of other bodies.

In addition, India says nearly 1,400 people were killed in Indian-administered Kashmir.

LoC opened

Residents of Kashmir are meanwhile still unable to cross over the Line of Control (LoC) which divides the region to help relatives and loved ones on the side.

Hundreds of people protested after the de facto border was opened at one point on Monday to relief material but not to civilians. Pakistani police fired shots in the air and tear gas shells to disperse the crowds.

India and Pakistan struck a deal to open five points along the heavily militarised LoC to help earthquake victims, but procedural difficulties are slowing things down.

India is said to be worried that separatist militants could try to take advantage of the opening to reach territory it controls.

Officials say civilians may have to wait for 10 days for their papers to be verified, before being allowed to cross over.



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