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Pakistan puts quake toll at 73,000 dead

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Pakistan's official earthquake death toll jumped by 16,000, and officials warned yesterday that it is likely to rise further as relief supplies fail to reach thousands of victims stranded in remote parts of the Himalayas.

The announcement, which puts the official toll at about 73,000, brings the central government figures closer to the number reported by local officials, who say the Oct. 8 quake killed at least 79,000 people in Pakistan. ''Just imagine how many villages and towns became a heap of rubble and how many people got buried," said Major General Farooq Ahmed Khan.

Khan said 73,276 people have been confirmed dead in Pakistan and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, up from the official count of 57,597. In India's portion of Kashmir, an additional 1,350 people died.

More than 69,000 people had severe injuries, with the total number of injured much higher, the general said.

Khan attributed the spike in deaths to bodies being recovered from the debris and warned ''there is likelihood of further increase" in the death toll. The government has been cautious about the official count, while regional officials from Pakistani Kashmir and the North West Frontier Province issued their higher tolls more than a week ago.

Top UN relief coordinator Jan Egeland told PBS ''there are . . .potentially tens of thousands, up there in the mountains that are wounded we haven't gotten to." He said a ''second wave of death" could come from ''people who could freeze to death, starve to death."

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