Friday, October 21, 2005

Pakistan quake toll could double - ABC/BBC/Reuters

Indian Kashmiri men react after relief goods were distributed to a few earthquake survivors in Chamkot in Indian-administered Kashmir. Reuters

Last Updated:Friday, October 21, 2005. 12:36pm (AEST)
Pakistan quake toll could double

United Nations emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland has warned that the death toll from the earthquake that hit Pakistan and India this month could double.
Pakistan has confirmed more that 50,000 people have been killed and another 1,300 died in Indian Kashmir.
The United Nations yesterday warned of a second, massive wave of deaths unless more is done to help the estimated 3 million people with no blankets nor tents to protect them from the Himalayan winter.
Mr Egeland says a response on the scale of this year's tsunami relief operation in South-East Asia is needed.
"The tsunami was devastating. It killed more people than any other disaster in modern time," he said.
"In the Kashmir [region] we have more people inaccessible than we even had in the tsunami and we also have more people wounded than we have in the tsunami.
"Those two factors mean that we are losing more lives as the days and the weeks go by."
Mr Egeland castigated governments for being slow to give money and called on the NATO alliance to set up a "Berlin Airlift" to save people in the rugged hills of Pakistani Kashmir and North West Frontier Province.
Donor countries have pledged only $86 million so far to a UN appeal for $312 million, according to the UN official.
He says hundreds of thousands of people remain beyond reach.


The 26-member NATO alliance was meeting on Friday to consider calls for a massive airlift to help quake survivors in Kashmir.
Washington unilaterally said last week it expected to have 40 of its military helicopters on the ground in the area in coming weeks.
Germany has already sent two of its helicopters.
With homes destroyed and belongings buried in rubble after the quake, international aid officials say the aid operation is turning into the toughest relief operation the world has known.
Aid workers say the most urgent need is for tents as people could soon start dying of exposure.
Mr Egeland says the relief effort has been complicated by differences between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir region, including arguments over whether Indian helicopter pilots could fly aid missions into Pakistani areas.

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The Asian tsunami disaster shocked the world because it reached many big countries at the same time. It also shocked the world because it reached well-known resorts full of Western tourists.
The relatively "small" relief operations in Pakistan are in sharp contrast with the unprecedented relief operations for the tsunami victims that took place more than 9 months ago. Yet tens of thousands more people may die in Pakistan...



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