Toll in Kyrgyzstan quake rises to 72 (Second lead)

October 6th, 2008 - 6:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Bishkek, Oct 6 (RIA Novosti) The toll in the 6.6-magnitude earthquake that hit southern Kyrgyzstan Sunday night has risen to 72, with authorities saying Monday the number of casualties could grow as many were feared trapped under the rubble.More than 100 people were also injured and some 120 buildings were destroyed in the devastating quake that struck near the former Soviet republic’s densely populated border area with China in the southern province of Osh.

“The rescue operation at the site of the tragedy is continuing and the figure (of the deaths) is not final,” said Kamchibek Tashiyev, spokesperson for the health ministry.

The bodies of 25 people have been pulled out from the rubble in the Alaisky district.

Tashiyev said the earthquake also destroyed the high-altitude village of Nura on Kyrgyzstan’s border with China, which was the epicentre of the earthquake. The village has a population of around 1,000 people.

A total of 38 people, including seven children, have been evacuated from the worst-hit areas by helicopters, the official said.

The search for survivors and casualties is ongoing, and seismologists have warned that new aftershocks could hit the region this week.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has cancelled all his schedule for Tuesday and is expected to visit the affected areas, his spokesperson said.

Bakiyev has ordered the government to provide aid to the quake victims and deal with the immediate aftermath of the disaster.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, meanwhile, sent his condolences to his Kyrgyz counterpart and ordered Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry to provide aid to Kyrgyzstan.

A Russian aircraft carrying humanitarian aid will arrive Bishkek Tuesday.

Earthquakes are frequent in the region. A 6.0-magnitude quake jolted the nearby Uzbek capital of Tashkent this August though it caused little damage.

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