Bulletin No 3 - South Asia earthquake
11-10-2005 Operational Update
The reported death toll in the South Asia earthquake has now passed 30,000 and a huge emergency relief operation is underway to assist the very large number of injured and homeless
Dramatic situation on the ground
The ICRC team based in Muzaffarabad today reported that the humanitarian situation in and around the town remains serious. Aid is gradually getting in and distribution by local organizations is taking place. The population is desperate to get blankets, tents and food.
Rescue work by the Pakistani authorities and international rescue teams is proceeding, but over a thousand bodies still await burial, causing very difficult conditions for the population and those helping them.
ICRC teams also reported that people were leaving the city to find shelter away from the destruction.
The authorities are evacuating the wounded by helicopter to Islamabad, Rawalpindi and other centres with major hospitals. This will increase the needs for re-establishing family links as families are separated by the evacuations. The Pakistan Red Crescent and ICRC will seek to maintain such family links during the rescue and relief operation.
First ICRC convoy arrives in the area
A convoy of ten lorries reached the town of Abbotabad today from Kabul, via Peshawar, with a first consignment of 10,000 blankets, 2,000 tarpaulins and other non-food items. Abbotabad is close to Pakistan-administered Kashmir and will be a convenient logistics hub for the ICRC in the region because the earthquake did not cause great damage in the town. Distribution of goods in Muzaffarabad will start tomorrow, Wednesday.
Muzaffarabad cricket ground to host new ICRC field hospital
The ICRC is gearing up to deal with the major medical emergency in the area of Muzaraffabad. A medical team has reached the town where the local cricket ground will provide the best location for an ICRC field hospital. The hospital, similar to the one deployed earlier in the year for tsunami victims in Indonesia's Aceh province, is being provided by the Finnish and Norwegian Red Cross societies and will be flown to Islamabad tonight. It is a tented structure and has a capacity of 100 beds.
At the same time, a mobile ICRC first aid station is leaving Geneva on a special ICRC flight tonight. It aims to be operational as soon as possible after its arrival on Wednesday morning in Islamabad. Due to its relatively light weight of 2 tonnes, it can be transported in one consignment by lorry or helicopter.
The first aid station will perform emergency surgery and provide other medical services on the spot in Muzaffarabad. It will be operational for at least a week while the larger ICRC field hospital is being set up.
In addition, the German and Japanese Red Cross societies have mobilized two basic health care emergency response units (ERUs) for the Muzaffarabad area. These two structures, and possibly more that will follow, will avoid overcrowding of the field hospital and provide outpatient consultations.
ICRC helicopters will provide access to remoter areas
The ICRC has hired three helicopters to fly in relief supplies and evacuate the wounded. A first helicopter is expected to be operational on Wednesday and another two before the end of the week. Helicopters enable access to the remoter areas hit by the earthquake. They will also to speed up deliveries by avoiding the badly congested roads leading to Muzaffarabad.
Strengthening the human and logistics set-up
The ICRC has set up an operational and logistics centre at Abbotabad. Four logisticians provided to the ICRC by the British Red Cross have joined the ICRC Abbotabad team today. An ICRC family tracing team will also be based there, starting tonight, and travel to Muzaffarabad and elsewhere to help families maintain links with their loved ones or report missing persons.
On Wednesday and Thursday, 30 medical personnel will arrive on the two special flights delivering the field hospital.
In Pakistan, the ICRC is coordinating its work with the Pakistan Red Crescent, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Cresc ent Societies and other Red Cross or Red Crescent societies that have joined the Movement's efforts. The Movement has established a coordination mechanism in Islamabad. The ICRC is leading the Movement's action in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir, India
In India, ICRC teams continue to support the Indian Red Cross Society following yesterday's joint missions to Uri and Poonch.
Please also refer to the latest operational update.
For more information please contact:
mobile ++92 300 850 81 38
attn: L. Berlemont
(ICRC Islamabad central tel. no: ++92 51 282 47 80 - 282 47 52)
mobile ++ 91 98 11 80 66 33
(ICRC New Delhi central tel. no: ++91 11 24 35 23 38/97 - 24 35 43 94/95/96)
Vincent Lusser (from Monday)
mobile ++41 79 217 32 64
ICRC Geneva press secretariat
tel. ++41 22 730 34 43
Please note that Pakistan time is GMT +5 hrs, India time is GMT +5.5, Geneva is at GMT +2hrs.