Hundreds of Pakistan's earthquake survivors complain they lost their homes

Hundreds of Pakistan's earthquake survivors complained they lost their homes but still got telephone bills a month after the disaster, a mosque official said Wednesday. About 300 people in Balakot, a northwestern town flattened by the Oct. 8 quake, protested at the town's main mosque last Friday, demanding the bills be withdrawn, said Abdul Majid, the mosque's administrator.

"Many people in the Friday gathering complained that their homes have been destroyed and they live in tents but still they were sent telephone bills" for November to be paid by Dec. 21, Majid said. "These people do not have shelters or anything to eat. They have lost everything but they are getting these bills," he added. Tahir Khan, an official with Pakistan Telecommunication Co. Ltd in Balakot, said he wasn't authorized to speak about the complaints.

Officials at the state-run company in the capital, Islamabad, weren't immediately available for comment.

But Khan said most telephone lines have not been repaired in Balakot since the quake, which killed about 87,000 people in the area and neighboring Kashmir. He added that of the total 1,957 telephone lines that were operating in Balakot before the quake, only 172 have since been restored, Khan said, reports the AP. I.L.

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