Bulletin No 9 - South Asia earthquake
17-10-2005 Operational Update
Relief and evacuation flights resume
ICRC teams resumed helicopter flights to the Jhelum valley from Muzaffarabad this morning after a weekend disrupted by bad weather. The helicopters work a rotation system taking in essential supplies and bringing out the injured. Six rotations were made to Chikar and Saran. The ICRC is one of the few organizations working in these remoter areas.
Vital health unit deployed
The first flight today took a basic health care unit to Chikar. The unit, run by the Japanese Red Cross, will provide outpatient treatment for the injured, identify and stabilize patients that need evacuation and carry out minor surgery. The unit has seven Japanese medical staff. They treated 60 people today, many of whom were then evacuated by ICRC or military helicopters to Muzaffarabad and Islamabad.
A second unit from the German Red Cross is being prepared. The staff have arrived in Muzaffarabad itself but the equipment has still to be transported from Islamabad. Bad weather over the weekend also delayed the arrival of all the elements of the field hospital, and the waterlogged site now needs many tonnes of gravel to stabilize the foundations. Finnish medical staff for the hospital, who are already in Muzaffarabad, today visited the medical facilities in the town t hat are still operating.
Assistance for 30,000 families
Tarpaulins, blankets and food were distributed today to 240 families, about 1,450 people, in the first three villages of the Jhelum valley that can be reached from Muzaffarabad by road. The ICRC plans to assist some 30,000 families (about 150,000 people) with food and non-food assistance. Two-thirds of the families are located in areas around Muzaffarabad that are accessible by road. The remaining third are in remoter areas accessible at the moment only by helicopter.
All families will receive a one-off non-food package containing tents, blankets, tarpaulins, soap, jerry cans, kitchen sets, warm clothes and shoes. Non-food items and protection against the elements is the priority. The aim is to have completed the distribution by the end of November. Distribution to people accessible by road will be at the rate of 5,000 families a week.
Food distributions provide a household with rations for one month. For the 10,000 families in remoter areas, a three-month supply of food will be provided at the same time as the non-food items. This is on the assumption that winter weather will make access increasingly difficult in these areas.
Food rations comprise rice or wheat flour, lentils, ghee, sugar, salt, tea and a supply of high-energy biscuits.
Logistics remain a challenge
Airport congestion, cargo handling and hiring trucks a nd helicopters continue to create problems for the relief effort. A prioritization plan is being put into place by the authorities, especially in Islamabad, that will favour the arrival of medical and shelter materials, the main priorities of the ICRC. Abbotabad remains the main forward logistics base for the ICRC operation.
The build-up of trucks and helicopters continues. The ICRC hopes to have seven helicopters flying by the end of the week.
The ICRC is repairing the water pumping station in Muzaffarabad. It is now functioning at 30% and will soon be back to full capacity.
Restoring family links
The ICRC continues to visit medical evacuees. The authorities are providing over 10,000 beds throughout Pakistan for evacuees. Many have retained links with their families. Where this is not the case, the ICRC will endeavour to re-establish links. A number of unaccompanied children have already been registered.
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 +2hrs.