Page last updated at 11:09 GMT, Friday, 15 January 2010

Road builders find bodies from 2005 Kashmir quake

The site from where the van was recovered
A large number of local people gathered to help with the recovery

A Chinese road-building firm in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir has dug up a van containing 17 bodies which went missing during the 2005 earthquake.

More than 70,000 people are believed to have died in the earthquake which hit north-west Pakistan and Indian-administered Kashmir on 8 October 2005.

Officials said the bodies had decomposed, but some were identifiable from clothing and documents.

Thousands went missing in the quake and many are still unaccounted for.

Police told the BBC Urdu service's Zulfiqar Ali that road workers found the passenger van in the Kamsar area, some 5km (3 miles) north of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Soon after the van was spotted, a large number of people, including relatives of those missing since the earthquake, arrived at the scene to help in the recovery operation and to identify their relatives, witnesses said.

Thirteen of the bodies were identified. They were from Muzaffarabad city and four villages nearby, police and witnesses said.

The five unidentified bodies include those of a woman and a child.

Police said the van left Muzaffarabad for Nauseri in Neelum Valley on the morning of 8 October 2005 and went missing shortly afterwards when the earthquake hit the region.

In June 2006 - nearly eight months after the earthquake - 13 bodies were recovered from a van buried in mudslide in Chalpani village, 10km (6 miles) from Muzaffarabad.

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