Pakistan

Interview: Situation in Pakistan's earthquake-hit areas in total control: official

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ISLAMABAD, Nov 01, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- The situation in Pakistan's earthquake-hit areas is in total control and there are ample food and medicines for quake victims, a senior member of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) told Xinhua on Saturday.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua here, Shaukat Nawaz Tahir, joint secretary of the Establishment Division of Pakistani government and a senior member of the NDMA said that the relief work had been going on smoothly.

Shaukat Nawaz Tahir said that Ziarat and Pishin were the two worst-hit areas in Balochistan. A total of eight villages were badly affected in Ziarat area while in Pishin four or five villages were moderately affected, he said, adding that 700 families in Ziarat and 100 in Pishin were affected in the quakes.

A total of 6,000 people were displaced in these two areas, he said and confirmed that 165 people were killed and 297 injured in Ziarat and two were dead and 17 others injured in Pishin.

Shaukat Nawaz Tahir said the relief work was mainly carried out by Pakistan army, Frontier Constabulary, Frontier Corps and other security men, joined by other non-government organizations and United Nations agencies.

"As a usual and normal practice, this time army immediately moved in the affected areas," he said and added that more than 1, 300 army men of all ranks were involved in the relief work.

Up to 15 Pakistan Army helicopters and five C-130 Aircraft have been dispatched for the relief work and transportation of relief goods, he said.

Denying some local media reports about militant groups' participation in relief operations, Shaukat Nawaz Tahir said some religious NGOs did take part in the operations and the government preferred "not to add colors to them."

He said the earthquake victims are facing some problems due to the severe weather. The temperatures in the night in those areas are below zero and "the immediate requirement is to offer shelter, "he said.

Shaukat Nawaz Tahir said the government had distributed 5,000 tents, 2,192 sleeping bags, some 20,000 blankets, 5,600 jackets and food items to the earthquake affectees. He clarified that the food items were enough for 10,000 affectees to live for one week.

Some international NGOs and sister provinces are also transporting relief goods to the quake-affected areas, he said.

Shaukat Nawaz Tahir assured that all the injured had been treated in hospitals. He disclosed that one field hospital was operational in Ziarat and three mobile teams were working in Pishin. "They treated people and sent them home," he said, stressing that only 60 people had been admitted.

He also expressed appreciation and gratitude on behalf of Pakistani government for what other countries had done to help Pakistan after the earthquake.

Many Chinese people have shown their great concern about the situation in Balochistan and expressed their willingness to help the victims. Responding to this, Shaukat Nawaz Tahir said he was very grateful to Chinese people.

"Pakistan and China have all-weather friendship and this is how we prove it," he said.