A strong earthquake, measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale, hit northern Pakistan on 8 October 2005, causing massive destruction, including an official death toll of 73,276. Four cross-sectional surveys were performed in late 2005 to assess mortality before the event, on the day, and subsequently. Two surveys were community-based and two were situated in camps for internally displaced persons. Crude mortality rates were low in the 3.5 months preceding the earthquake (less than 0.1 deaths per 10,000 per day) and slightly higher in the six-to-eight weeks after the earthquake (ranging from 0.10–0.43 per 10,000 per day). On 8 October 2005, approximately two per cent of the population in one community survey died and around five per cent in the other three surveys. Children less than five years and adults more than or equal to 50 years tended to have a higher risk of mortality on the day of the disaster. These results corroborate the high mortality caused by the earthquake.