"It is a whole generation that has been lost in the worst affected areas. The maximum number affected was schoolchildren," Major General Shaukat Sultan told AFP.
"Rescuers are pulling out dead children in Muzaffarabad but there is no one to claim the bodies which shows their parents are dead," Sultan said, referring to the capital of Pakistani Kashmir.
"Rawalakot has been destroyed. Muzaffarabad is 70 percent destroyed. There is not a single house in Muzaffarabad which has not suffered damage. There is not a single famliy there that has not suffered," he added.
The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) and a senior government official speaking on condition of anonymity said Monday that between 30,000 and 40,000 people had died.
Witnesses and correspondents say schools collapsed in almost every town and village across devastated northwestern Pakistan and Pakistani Kashmir.
Many hundreds were trapped in the wreckage because the quake struck at the beginning of the school day and parents have been desperately digging at the rubble in the increasingly vain hope of getting them out.
In the northwestern town of Balakot, a young boy and girl were pulled alive from the rubble of their school two days after the quake struck, an AFP photographer said.
Volunteers and relatives of hundreds of parents at the Shaheen Public School in the devastated town of Balakot helped to get the two children out of the debris, the AFP photographer said from the scene.
People recited verses from the Muslim holy book the Koran as the two were dug out from the rubble and cried Allahu-Akbar (God is great), witnesses said.
The six-year-old boy, who had swelling on his face, was found in the remains of the schools first floor gallery of the school.
The girl, who is aged four, had some injuries on her face, witnesses said. In Balakot, two schools and an Islamic madrassa, or religious school, were toppled, with nearly 1,000 students thought to be buried in total.