A spokesman for the Pakistani president says the massive earthquake that has struck his country has claimed 18,000 lives – far more than earlier estimates. Hundreds more have been killed in India. As the frantic search for survivors continued this morning, Islamabad described the quake as the biggest catastrophe in Pakistan’s history.Although scores were freed from an apartment block in Islamabad, many of the worst hit areas are almost inaccessible. And the type of machinery used in the capital is just not available. Food and water were handed out to the thousands who dared not return to their homes last night, or no longer had homes to return to. Around the epi-centre whole villages have been reduced to rubble, in the most powerful quake to hit the region in a century.