Pakistan

Caritas ready to respond to earthquake in Pakistan

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Caritas teams are on the ground in Balochistan following a strong earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale that hit southwest Pakistan.

The first shock was felt in the early hours of October 29 local time, while the other tremors shook the province about an hour later. Then there was another shock at 5.32 pm in the evening.

The tremors affected the provincial capital Quetta and large parts of Balochistan.

Initial reports are coming in. Death figures are in the hundreds but expected to rise sharply. There is evidence of wide scale devastation of houses.

Due to the shocks, landslides have affected the population of Chamman and Ziarat as Baluchistan is a mountainous area. The infrastructure is weak there, with poor roads and weak communications.

However, communications have been possible with Caritas staff and teams are carrying out rapid needs assessments.

Caritas Internationalis Emergency Response Team Co-ordinator Dolores Halpin-Bachmann said, "The priorities are getting accurate assessments of destruction and responding to the needs of the people. We will be coordinating with Caritas staff over the next hours to put together a response.

"We have an excellent record in Pakistan. Caritas staff there have substantial training in responding to natural disasters, especially earthquakes. We've worked on disaster preparedness, which we hope will improve our ability to save lives."

Caritas Internationalis members worldwide took on a leading role responding to a massive earthquake that struck northern Pakistan in 2005.

Please call Patrick Nicholson on +39 06 698 79 725 or +39 334 359 0700 or email nicholson@caritas.va with any requests