ACT update Pakistan 01/2002: Gilgit Earthquake

News and Press Release
Originally published
Geneva, 11 December 2002 - On 21 November, 2002 a strong earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale hit the northern areas of Pakistan. More than two weeks after the earthquake, the area is still experiencing aftershocks.
Six villages in the Astore Valley, Diamer District, were the most severely affected. Damage to roads, infrastructure and electricity has been massive with the quake cutting off roadways leading into the Astore Valley. Two weeks after the earthquake the main road is still blocked and emergency repairs to the access road are currently being made by the army engineers. This will take at least 3 weeks. Power and telephone lines as well as water channels have been damaged in most areas.

According to the UN Resident Co-ordinator's Office in Islamabad, the total population of the affected zone is 140,742. A total of 19 people have now been confirmed dead. Previous reports put the figure at 23. 40 people were reported to be injured in 9 villages of the Astore Sub-Division. The earthquake has destroyed 100 houses while 1,256 are damaged. Three successive earthquakes had already shaken the same area on 2 and 3 November 2002, killing 17 people, injuring 65 and rendering 4,000 homeless.

To date, it is estimated that 15,000 persons, whose homes collapsed during the quakes, have been rendered homeless. Furthermore, there are thousands of people spending the nights under the open sky in temperatures reaching minus 8 degrees Centigrade. These people fear sleeping indoors because of the cracks that have developed in their houses. On 4 December 2002, the region experienced heavy snowfalls.

The relief operations are being supervised directly by the Northern Areas administration. Since the main access road to the affected area remains blocked, the army continues to airlift the relief supplies, as well as medical and assessment teams into the region. The Government of Pakistan, UN agencies, the Red Crescent, as well as several international and national NGOs have contributed relief supplies, such as medicine, tents, blankets, clothes and other essential items.

Although a fairly large number of relief items have reached the affected villages, the situation remains critical. Approximately 1,000 isolating sheets and 3,000 quilts are still needed. In addition, essential

medicines are required as well as 75,000 water purification tablets for 1,256 households for a period of 30 days. Although it has not officially requested international assistance, the Government of Pakistan has indicated that it would appreciate any help offered.

ACT member, Church World Service Pakistan/Afghanistan, along with implementing partner Islamic Relief, responded directly to the most urgent needs of 500 of the most vulnerable families (3,500 individuals). CWS P/A requested assistance through ACT to provide each family with 4 quilts, 4 sweaters and 2 shawls. By 27 November a total of 2,000 quilts and 1,000 shawls had already left the CWS-P/A warehouse for distribution.

ACT provided an amount of USD 25,000 from the Rapid Response Fund to supplement the USD 10,000 from CWS USA.

Thank you for your attention.

For further information please contact:

ACT Director, Thor-Arne Prois (phone ++41 22 791 6033 or mobile phone ++ 41 79 203 6055) or
ACT Appeals Officer, Mieke Weeda (phone ++ 41 22 791 6035 or mobile phone ++ 41 79 285 2916)

ACT Web Site address:

ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated emergency response.

The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.