MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan (AP) – Rescue workers abandoned the search Friday for survivors trapped in the rubble of last week’s earthquake, though individual efforts continued, with an 18-month-old girl pulled out alive from the ruins of her home.

A top U.N. official warned that reconstruction of the devastated region will cost billions of dollars and take up to a decade, and the United Nations increased its appeal for quake aid to $312 million. Weather forecasters said rains that began at dawn Saturday could worsen and disrupt efforts to provide food and shelter to an estimated 2 million people ahead of the harsh Himalayan winter.

With Pakistan’s death toll from the Oct. 8 earthquake estimated at more than 35,000, Jan Egeland, the U.N. undersecretary-general and emergency relief coordinator, said the search-and-rescue phase was now over. “It’s a cruel reality. But after a week, very few people survive,” he said.

Still, a doctor, Mazhar Hussain, told Pakistan’s GEO television and the British Broadcasting Corp. that his rescue team had pulled the toddler, unconscious but alive, from under the door of her collapsed house, which had protected her. Her mother and two brothers were found dead nearby, but her father survived.

“Her right hand is broken and she has a fracture in her left leg,” he said on GEO, speaking from Balimang in the North-West Frontier Province, where the girl was found.

Egeland, who traveled to hard-hit areas, said he feared bottlenecks of relief supplies.

“If we don’t work together, we will become a disaster within a disaster,” he said. He said it would take billions of dollars and “five to 10 years” to rebuild.

With few survivors expected, the focus of the U.N. shifted to the relief operation.

The United Nations launched an appeal Tuesday for some $272 million for quake victims, but its chief humanitarian envoy Hansjoerg Strohmeyer said an additional $40 million was needed.

So far, he said, pledges for just over $50 million have been received, with $4.6 million turned into firm commitments or contributions. The biggest donations to the U.N. appeal are $17 million from Britain, $10 million from Sweden and $8 million from Canada, he said. President Bush pledged up to $50 million, and the U.S. Agency for International Development has already earmarked $10.8 million for the U.N. appeal, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations said.

But the U.N. said this has not been reported yet to its financial tracking service.

Many countries, including the United States, have also made bilateral donations to Pakistan.

In Islamabad, police launched a criminal investigation into the collapse of a 10-story luxury residence that was the capital’s only structure to fall in the magnitude-7.6 quake, killing at least 40 residents.

“We will arrest all those who didn’t perform their duty well,” said the city police chief, Sikandar Hayat. “They might be the builders, contractors or supervisors.”

Most of Pakistan’s deaths were in the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir, where snow has started to fall in some areas. India has reported more than 1,350 deaths in the portion of Kashmir it controls.

Rain began falling at dawn Saturday in the region and Mohammed Hanif, a senior meteorologist in Islamabad, said it would “definitely disrupt relief operations in earthquake-hit areas.”

Earlier this week, rains and hailstorms grounded helicopters flying food and other supplies to devastated areas.

Many exhausted relief workers dealt with the added burden of fasting during the daytime hours for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Early Saturday, a magnitude-5 aftershock struck 78 miles north of Islamabad in the region worst hit by the initial quake, but there were no immediate reports of damage. There have been more than 500 aftershocks since the main quake.

“They’re going to continue,” warned Waverly Person, a seismologist with the U.S. National Earthquake Center in Colorado. “This was a big event.”

Water and electricity were restored to parts of Muzaffarabad, a Kashmiri city of 600,000 in the heart of the quake zone. Authorities worked to bring power back to outlying villages.

The country’s relief commissioner, Maj. Gen. Farooq Ahmad Khan, said Pakistan expected to get 2 million blankets and 100,000 large tents before the onset of winter. He said 200,000 houses had been destroyed.

UNICEF said the international relief effort must focus on helping children at risk of death from cold, malnutrition and disease. The U.N. agency said it was sending high protein bars, boots and sweaters for children, blankets, water containers, plastic tarpaulins, tents, medical supplies and blankets.

Pakistani military helicopters and choppers from other countries flew in and out of a sports stadium in Muzaffarabad, where a temporary hospital had been set up. The choppers ferried aid workers to isolated villages, including those in the Neelum and Jehlum valleys, and brought back hundreds of injured people.

Pakistan’s information minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, said helicopters from other nations had helped save 6,000 injured people by ferrying them to hospitals. On Friday, 45 helicopters flew a total of 80 sorties, he said.

The U.S. military has deployed 13 helicopters to Pakistan, and has begun dropping relief supplies by air from C-130s. It also prepared to send a 36-bed Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, or MASH, from Germany, and a water purification crew.

Dozens of countries have donated money and aid.

Millions of Muslims thronged mosques across Pakistan on Friday, the Muslim sabbath, to offer prayers for those who died in the earthquake. Some clerics said the quake was a sign that God was unhappy with his people. About 1,500 worshippers gathered inside a damaged mosque in the center of Muzaffarabad.

“God, forgive us,” said the cleric, Mulana Sazluddin Chishdi. “Help all those who are helping others in this hard time, and give the nation courage to bear this loss and take part in the reconstruction of this city.”

AP-ES-10-14-05 2145EDT


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