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Pakistan: Logistic support needed to transport urgent tsunami relief

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ISLAMABAD, 25 January (IRIN) - The Sri Lankan and Indonesian embassies in Pakistan are desperately trying to find air transportation for emergency relief supplies due to be sent to tsunami-affected people in their respective countries.

"We are looking for someone to provide us with the support for transportation of emergency medicine and foodstuffs to Sri Lanka. If it can't be transported urgently, it'll be useless," Punchi Banda Dissanayake, senior second secretary at the High Commission of Sri Lanka told IRIN in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, on Tuesday.

As the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster moves into its fifth week, the death toll in about a dozen Indian Ocean countries exceeded 280,000, according to BBC, with some 220,000 killed in Indonesia alone.

The Indonesian Embassy in Pakistan has so far received cash donations worth 7 million rupees (about US $116,000) for its natural disaster relief fund.

"The government of Pakistan has already set up relief programmes by arranging transportation of goods, paramedics and engineers, which was facilitated by the Pakistani armed forces to help the recovery of the affected areas in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam and North Sumatera Provinces," the Indonesian embassy official Budhi Prihantoro told IRIN in Islamabad.

"Not only that, but some NGOs are already coordinating their branches in Indonesia to support the relief programmes," the official said.

"But at the moment the embassy in Islamabad and the Indonesian Consulate General in Karachi has at least 25 truck loads [of supplies] waiting to be shipped," the Indonesian embassy official maintained, adding that as a result the embassy has stopped taking in relief donations.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's navy task force has reached Indonesia after conducting relief operations in Sri Lanka for seven days. Two Pakistani naval ships with three helicopters sailed for Sri Lanka and Indonesia on 4 January from the southern port city of Karachi. The task force includes marines and members of special services group to help the local authorities in relief and underwater operations.

"Besides providing relief goods, the task force gave medical treatment to 8,500 patients, including 92 minor and two major operations in the field hospital established in the Galle city [some 116 km south of Sri Lankan capital, Colombo]," Captain Aamir Naeem Baig, head of the navy public relations department, told IRIN in the Islamabad.

A medical team comprising 80 paramedics and 15 doctors, accompanying the task force, has established a 50-bed field hospital in Smalanga, some 75 km west of the eastern Indonesian port of Loksemawe in North Aceh. The naval hospital is treating an average of 1,600 patients a day besides undertaking 20 operations.

The task force also has members of an army engineering battalion on board to help the Indonesian government to restore communications infrastructure, according to a navy press statement.

Another task force, comprising about 250 personnel from the medical and engineering corps of the Pakistan army, is already working in Indonesia. Army medics have set up a field hospital in the coastal town of Lamno in Aceh province, where around 60 percent of the population has been reported dead as a result of the tsunami.

[ENDS]

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