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Earthquake in Afghanistan: Rostaq airdrops: Mission accomplished

11-03-1998 News Release 98/10

The Hercules C-130 chartered by the ICRC to drop relief supplies over Rostaq, a town near the epicentre of the earthquake that hit northern Afghanistan last month, returned to Europe on 8 March, its mission accomplished.

A flight planned for 7 March had to be cancelled because of poor weather conditions. This means that between 19 February and 1 March, the date of the last airdrop, the plane had made 15 round trips from Peshawar, Pakistan, bringing about 200 tonnes of supplies (some 15,000 blankets and 475 tents) to supplement the assistance transported to the quake-affected area by numerous road convoys.

The Hercules had also made four flights to Mazar-i-Sharif carrying supplies needed to replenish stocks in ICRC warehouses there and in the nearby town of Pul-i-Khumri.

Despite the problems encountered on account of the bad weather, the airdrops of supplies over northern Afghanistan were crucial to the survival of the quake victims. The ICRC had carried out only two similar operations in the past, in Ethiopia and in Sudan.

According to the local authorities, the tremor which shook Takhar province on 4 February claimed 4,500 lives and left thousands of villagers without shelter. The ICRC - with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Afghan Red Crescent Society and many other humanitarian organizations - coordinated relief operations, made especially difficult by snowfalls, mudslides and the extreme cold.