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Pakistan: earthquakes devastate Baluchistan

29-10-2008 Feature

Earthquakes have jolted south-western Pakistan, causing death and destruction and adding to the misery already caused by years of fighting. The ICRC is assessing the effects of the disaster and extending its support to the Pakistani people.

Reports indicate that three consecutive earthquakes with magnitudes of 6.2, 6.2 and 6.4 respectively have hit the province of Baluchistan in south-western Pakistan. They were followed by other tremors of lower magnitudes.  

  © REUTERS/ Saeed Ali Achakzai    
 
  Ziarat, Baluchistan. Residents carry a body recovered from the rubble of a house after the earthquake.    
     

At this stage it is not clear how many people are dead or injured but initial reports i ndicate that hundreds of people may have been wounded or killed and that thousands may be without shelter.

Two ICRC teams have reached the affected area. They are on the spot assessing the situation and needs. ICRC staff report that aftershocks are continuing, forcing frightened residents to stay outdoors in the cold.

The affected districts are Pashin, Ziarat and Killa Saifullah. This is a hilly region and several roads are blocked. Ziarat is a sparsely populated district whose total population is estimated at around 50,000.

   
  © REUTERS/Rizwan Saeed    
 
  Residents huddle outside their homes as an earthquake jolts the city of Quetta.    
    The Pakistan Red Crescent Society has sent two mobile health teams and 28 staff and volunteers to distribute relief supplies for up to 100 families.

The ICRC intends to send medical kits to Baluch istan. An ICRC medical team will fly to the region from Peshawar early on Thursday 30 October.

The ICRC is working closely with the Pakistan Red Crescent and stands ready to step up its humanitarian response. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is also sending a support team to the region, including a disaster management expert, a health specialist and an information officer.