Swedes missing after Islamabad quake

A Swedish woman and her three small children are still missing after the earthquake in Islamabad on Saturday morning. Latest reports suggest that over 30,000 people may have died with entire villages wiped out.

The Swedish family lived on the ninth floor of a ten-storey building in the Pakistani capital. Six other Swedish families lived in the same building, which was destroyed in the earthquake. Emergency personnel worked throughout the day on Saturday to take the dead and injured from the rubble.

“The four Swedes were in the house when the earthquake occurred, according to the latest details I have,” said Gunilla von Bahr, a counsellor at the Swedish embassy in Pakistan.

But she added that Islamabad as a whole “seemed rather untouched” by the quake, which measured 7.6 on the Richter scale and had its epicentre 80km north east of the capital.

The father of the missing family is a UN observer in Kashmir. On Saturday evening he was on his way back to Islamabad with other UN observers, said the Swedish embassy.

Gunilla von Bahr said that she was woken just before 9am by the earthquake.

“This isn’t the first time I’ve been in an earthquake, but this one was absolutely the most powerful. The whole building shook and then there were several aftershocks,” she said.

Shortly afterwards, von Bahr and other embassy personnel were told that the Margalla tower, part of a complex where many UN staff and other westerners were living, had collapsed.

“The ten-floor tower has sunk through the ground and is now no higher than a two-storey house. It’s an absurd sight,” said von Bahr.

She said that many of the Swedish families had escaped by lowering themselves out of windows with sheets.

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