A Preston imam, grieving from the death of six family members after Saturday's devastating earthquake, has flown to Pakistan in the hope that other relatives, including his mother and father, may still be alive.

Naseer Ahmed, 43, Imam of Raza Mosque, St Paul's Road, Deepdale, spoke to the Citizen on Tuesday shortly before boarding a plane to Islamabad with his wife Azamt, 34, on his way to his home town of Bagh.

The small town in Pakistan administered Kashmir is about 50 miles south of the epicentre of Saturday's earthquake which has resulted in more than 20,000 deaths.

Mr Ahmed, of Fletcher Road, Deepdale, is aware that two sisters, two uncles and two aunts have died.

He faces the grim prospect that 12 more members of his family, including mother, Savear Jan and father, Haji Isam Din, could have also perished. The imam, who has served at Raza Mosque for eight years, said: "At first we didn't think it was that bad. But as we watched it unfold on the news we realised how serious it was. We tried to get hold of family and we just couldn't get through.

"A lot of people, including me, spent the day crying because we just didn't know what to do.

"I can't stay here, I have to go and try and do something."

Telephone connections, as well as water and power supplies in Bagh, are still down, and Mr Ahmed has only received snatches of information from a friend in New York who has managed to establish contact with some of the villagers.

Mr Ahmed, who moved to Preston in 1989, took medicines and warm clothing with him for survivors of the quake. He said he did not know when he would return but an imam from another mosque will step in for him. He said: "I can't be sure who is and who isn't alive but I'm hoping for the best. I suppose I am brave and it is a frightening situation but my family need me."