Bulletin No 8 - South Asia earthquake
16-10-2005 Operational Update
Bad weather severely hampers relief operations
No helicopter flights were possible today between Islamabad and Muzaffabad, interrupting the flow of relief materials into the disaster area. Evacuation flights of injured people and relief distribution were also affected.
The deployment today of an ICRC basic health unit to Chikar in the Neelham valley, provided and staffed by the Japanese Red Cross, has been postponed. So too has the assessment flight in the same valley, from where there have been reports of a large number of injured people.
Weather conditions are becoming a major preoccupation for the overall relief effort in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. Within a month, heavy snows will limit helicopter use. Reopening roads is a slow and difficult process.
The focus of ICRC activity remains the Neelham and Jehlum valleys in Muzaffarabad district (one of the three most affected districts of the seven districts in Pakistan-administered Kashmir). The valleys have a population of over 600,000 people.
In the first week of the earthquake operation, the ICRC transported 579 tonnes of relief materials to Islamabad and Peshawar from Amman, Colombo, Geneva, Kabul, London and Nalchick. A further 524 tonnes are in the pipeline. Additionally 1,200 tonnes of clothes and food were purchased locally to meet the needs of 50,000 people.
Helicopters remain essential while roads in the area affected by the earthquake remain impassable. A transport aircraft will bring two Puma helicopters, hired by the ICRC in Spain, to Islamabad tomorrow. A third will come under its own power from Tajikistan, weather permitting. By the end of the week, two additional helicopters are scheduled to reach Pakistan from Turkmenistan to reinforce the ICRC operation.
The situation in Muzaffarabad
The disruption of supplies by the poor weather has further delayed the opening, on the cricket ground in Muzaffarabad, of the ICRC field hospital supplied by the Finnish and Norwegian Red Cross societies.
The scene at the heliport has worsened. Two of the six helipads are out of use following an accident, threatening to limit the capacity of the heliport once the bad weather lifts.
While the weather hinders flights, the ICRC is continuing assessments and planning relief distribution in the areas around Muzaffarabad accessible by road. Three villages in the Jehlum valley were assessed today, with staff from the Pakistan Red Crescent. In the first only one house was still standing. In the second 27 of the 300 inhabitants had perished in the earthquake. In all three, cattle were in stables at the moment the earthquake struck and many were lost. The harvest in all three villages, however, is still intact. Based on the assessment of needs made today, the ICRC and PRCS will distribute essential relief materials to all three villages by road tomorrow.
The ICRC now has over 50 expatriate staff in Muzaffarabad.
Restoring family links
ICRC staffs are visiting patients in Peshawar hospitals today and are conducting an assessment in the region of Abbotabad.
For more information please contact:
sat. phone ++ 88 216 89 80 41 45
attn: L. Berlemont
(ICRC Islamabad central tel. no: ++92 51 282 47 80 - 282 47 52)
Olivier MOECKLI or Raza HAMDANI
sat. phone ++ 88 216 511 012 97
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)
mobile ++41 79 217 32 16
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