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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

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Aid starts rolling for desperate earthquake survivors
10/12/2005
 

          MUZAFFARABAD, Oct 11: Trucks laden with aid began rolling into northeast Pakistan Tuesday as the rescue effort finally started reaching desperate survivors of an earthquake three days ago which left up to 40,000 dead and millions homeless,report agencies.
Giant US Chinook helicopters also brought in supplies and ferried casualties out of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, which along with many villages and towns was devastated by Saturday's 7.6 magnitude quake.
More than 60,000 people are believed to be have been injured in the disaster, and the United Nations estimates more than two million people have been made homeless.
The perilous, twisting roads leading into Muzaffarabad were cleared of landslides late Monday, but long traffic jams formed as the aid convoys began pouring in along with anxious people checking on the fate of their relatives.
When they arrived they found hungry and traumatised survivors who have endured nights out in the open in freezing and wet weather, with little food and almost no access to medical treatment.
The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) warned Tuesday there was a risk of an epidemic of water-borne disease in Muzaffarabad.
MSF workers who reached the city were still assessing the situation but "Muzaffarabad itself they consider to be much more destroyed than anticipated," Simpson said.
At the University Stadium in the centre of Muzaffarabad, many hundreds of casualties were waiting in the open, and on almost every street there were apocalyptic scenes.
Around countless mounds of rubble, people were digging using shovels and picks in search of loved ones.
Meanwhile: About one thousand hospitals were "completely destroyed" in the earthquake in Pakistan, severely hampering urgent medical treatment for thousands of injured people, the United Nations said Tuesday.
The estimate was contained in a UN situation report on the international aid operation following the quake that devastated areas north of the capital Islamabad Saturday, as well as parts of northern India and Afghanistan.
Meanwhile: Rivals Pakistan and India said their nuclear warheads and installations were safe after the weekend's devastating earthquake which caused major casualties on both sides.
The South Asian neighbours conducted tit-for-tat atomic tests in 1998 and in 2002 came to the brink of war along their ceasefire line in the divided Himalayan territory of Kashmir, the area worst hit by Saturday's 7.6 magnitude quake.
Meanwhile: Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) warned Tuesday there was a risk of an epidemic of water-borne disease in Muzaffarabad, the quake-devastated capital of Pakistani Kashmir.
The Paris-based aid group's chief in Islamabad, Isabelle Simpson, said water supplies could become contaminated because of quake damage, "which is why we worry that that could lead then to outbreaks of other water-borne diseases".
Aid has begun to trickle into Muzaffarabad after the only roads linking it with the outside world were opened late Monday but the city where at least 11,000 are confirmed dead is still in chaos.
MSF workers who reached the city were still assessing the situation but "Muzaffarabad itself they consider to be much more destroyed than anticipated," Simpson said.

 

MUZAFFARABAD (Pakistan) : Pakistan army troopers carry away an injured Kashmiri woman for treatment following evacuation from a remote area on her arrival in Muzaffarabad Tuesday. AFP photo
 
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