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Pakistan: severe earthquakes leave thousands homeless

29-10-2008 News Release 08/197

Geneva/Islamabad (ICRC) – Thousands of people have been made homeless and hundreds have been killed or injured by three earthquakes, which rocked southwest Pakistan before daybreak on Wednesday.

The consecutive quakes, with magnitudes of 6.2, 6.2 and 6.4 on the Richter scale respectively, hit the Balochistan province and were followed by aftershocks.

" There is no clear information yet on the number of dead or injured but initial reports indicate that hundreds of people may have been wounded or killed and that thousands may be without shelter, " said the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross'(ICRC) sub-delegation in Quetta, Andrew Bartles-Smith.

Two ICRC teams have reached the affected area and are on the spot assessing the situation and needs. They say aftershocks are continuing and that frightened residents are staying outdoors in the cold.

The affected districts are Pashin, Ziarat and Killa Saifullah. It is a hilly region and several roads are reported to be blocked. The total population of Ziarat district, reportedly the hardest hit, is estimated at around 50,000.

The Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has sent two teams to the earthquake-hit region to distribute relief supplies for 100 families. The team includes 28 staff and volunteers, as well as two mobile health teams. The ICRC intends to send medical kits to the region. A surgical and medical team will fly from Peshawar early on Thursday.

The ICRC is working closely with the PRCS and stands ready to increase its humanitarian response to those in need. 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.

The ICRC is also in contact wit h military and government authorities, as well as local officials, regarding the humanitarian response to the disaster.

 
For more information, please contact:
  Carla Haddad Mardini, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 2405 or + 41 79 217 3226
  Simon Schorno, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 251 9302
  Marco Succi, ICRC Islamabad, tel: +92 300 850 81 38