Reacting to the 6.5 earthquake in Pakistan Télécoms Sans Frontières deployed a team of emergency telecommunications specialist on Friday. TSF's team which includes a volunteer of the Asian Institute of Technology deployed from its Asian base in Bangkok to the affected Province of Balotchistan as soon as possible.
Télécoms Sans Frontières started running humanitarian calling operations on Sunday after arriving in Ziarat the region most affected by the October 29th earthquake.
According to local authorities, 321 people have killed and 603 seriously injured (with as many as 311 and 350 in the Ziarat area alone). In total, more than 130,000 people have been affected.
Landlines are cut off and only the cities of Ziarat and Quetta are covered by mobile networks leaving dozens of villages located in the valleys without any communications.
TSF's team travels from village to village with satellite phones so that survivors can give news to their family and request personalized assistance. Survivors are in desperate need of blankets and shelter to protect from the freezing cold at 2 500 meters altitude right at the heart of one of the poorest regions of the country.
TSF could also install a satellite-based Emergency Communications Centre in the coming hours to facilitate Internet communication for aid organizations in Ziarat. A needs assessment is currently in progress and more crews could be deployed to strengthen TSF's operations.
This is TSF's 8th emergency deployment since the beginning of the year. It is also the second time TSF intervenes in Pakistan. On October 8th 2005, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake killed more than 75,000 people in the Pakistani Kashmir. TSF which had responded for more than one month to the emergency had helped 70 aid organizations and offered free calls to almost 2,200 affected families.
This mission is supported by the Vodafone Group Foundation, the United Nations Foundation, Inmarsat, Eutelsat, Vizada, AT&T, Cable & Wireless, PCCW Global and the Regional Council of Aquitaine.