Pakistan

Pakistan - Caritas provides immediate relief following Ziarat earthquake

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Caritas is mobilizing to provide emergency assistance and relief to the thousands of people in the Ziarat district of Baluchistan, near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border who have been devastated by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake.

The tremor which struck in the early hours of Wednesday morning has killed up to 170 people, triggered landslides, injured hundreds, displaced thousands and has destroyed houses and government buildings.

"Consistent with our rapid response policy to humanitarian emergencies, we will be accepting donations," said Mr Jack de Groot, Chief Executive Officer of Caritas Australia.

"We are part of the Caritas Internationalis network and accordingly we are able to direct donations to our partners in Pakistan and the affected region, who can respond quickly and effectively.

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."

Maulana Abdul Samad, the minister for forests in Baluchistan, told reporters that about 15,000 people were homeless and had no electricity, water or food and urged the international community to help.

Ziarat's mayor Dilawar Kakar has also called for urgent assistance "I would like to appeal to the whole world for help, we need food, we need medicine. People need warm clothes, blankets, because it is cold here."

Jack de Groot concluded "We are responding to this urgent call and once the immediate needs of the vulnerable are addressed our partners will make an assessment as to any long term rehabilitation effort in partnership with the people of Ziarat" said Mr De Groot.

For more information contact: Tim O'Connor 0417 284 831.