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Bulletin No. 13 – South Asia earthquake

21-10-2005 Operational Update

In the aftermath of the earthquake in South Asia, the ICRC has issued an emergency appeal for additional funding and is concentrating its relief efforts on providing medical assistance, shelter, food and water to those affected.

 ICRC field hospital opens in Muzaffarabad  

A 100-bed ICRC field hospital was opened in Muzaffarabad today. It is staffed by over 50 medical personnel furnished mainly by the Norwegian and Finnish Red Cross and by over 100 locally hired medical and support personnel. The facility, which will serve as a general hospital, consists of an assembly of over 30 tents. It will provide care in the domains of surgery, obstetrics, internal medicine and paediatrics.

Its first patient was a girl with a broken and badly infected leg, a type of injury all too frequent as a result of the earthquake. Over 30 seriously injured earthquake victims have been admitted so far. Twenty-nine of them – all women and children – were flown in by ICRC helicopter from four isolated villages in the area of Ghori, in the Neelum valley.

Read more details in today's ICRC press release.  

 Location found for a new basic health-care unit in Jhelum valley  

Flying by helicopter over the eastern parts of Jhelum valley, an ICRC team today identified a suitable location near the village of Gujar Bandi for a second basic health-care unit. A Finnish Red Cross medical team will set up the facility in the coming days. The aim is to provide health care locally and to identify and prepare the more seriously wound ed people for evacuation to the new ICRC field hospital in Muzaffarabad.

There are many requirements for a suitably located facility. To save as many lives as possible, it must be set up in a priority area in terms of the number of people needing treatment. It must be accessible from a wide range of remote villages, and have terrain allowing the tent structure to be set up and helicopters to land.

Gujar Bandi is situated further east than the ICRC's existing basic-health unit in Chikar, where the Japanese Red Cross has been providing medical care for the last five days. Chikar serves an area of about 80 small villages and hamlets. Medical work there is gradually coming to an end.

 Human remains  

Dealing with human remains is a difficult but important task for the authorities. Contrary to many rumours, bodies as such create no risk of epidemics. It is crucial however, that remains are dealt with in a way that best ensures they will be able to be identified later, and that is respectful of human dignity and cultural sensitivities.

An ICRC forensic specialist is advising the authorities and the unit of the Pakistani army in charge of collecting the dead on ways to ensure best possible conditions for later identification. Standard forms for registering the information needed for this purpose – developed by the ICRC in the framework of its efforts to address the issue of missing persons – were given to the authorities.

The ICRC and the Pakistan Red Crescent Society also gave 850 body bags to the army unit collecting the dead and another 250 to a local non-governmental organization working to recover human remains.

 Woolen blankets from the Russian Federation  

The ICRC continues to bring i n relief items from its existing warehouses in other countries. After shipping in goods from Afghanistan, the Middle East and Sri Lanka, a first batch of 18,500 blankets with 80% wool content reached Peshawar yesterday from the ICRC warehouse in Nalchik, in the Russian Federation and a second consignment, also of 18,500 woolen blankets, was on its way today.


For further information, please contact:

 Islamabad / Pakistan  

 Leyla Berlemont  

 sat. phone: ++88 216 89 80 41 45  

  attn: L. Berlemont

(ICRC Islamabad central tel. ++92 51 282 47 80 or 282 47 52)

Languages: English/French/Arabic



 Muzaffarabad / Pakistan-administered Kashmir  

 Raza Hamdani : sat. phone: ++ 88 216 511 012 97   

 or Helena Laatio ICRC/Finnish Red Cross), satellite phone +88 2165 420 7201  


 New Delhi / India  

 Caspar Landolt  

 mobile: ++91 98 11 80 66 33  


ICRC New Delhi central tel. ++91 11 24 35 23 38/97 or 24 35 43 94/95/96)

Languages: English/French/German/Portuguese

 Geneva / Switzerland  

 Vincent Lusser  

 mobile: ++41 79 217 32 64  

Languages: English/French/German    



 ICRC Geneva press secretariat  

 tel. ++41 22 730 34 43  

   Please also check:  



Pakistan: GMT + 5 hours; India: GMT + 5.5 hours; Geneva: GMT + 2 hours