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Pakistan Earthquake - TSF deploys emergency telecommunications specialists

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Pau, 31 October 2008 - 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 took off from its Asian base in Bangkok and will land in the capital Islamabad tonight local time to be deployed to the affected Province of Balotchistan as soon as possible.

According to local sources, phones lines have been cut off. TSF will run humanitarian calling operations so that those affected can give news to their family and ask for personalized assistance. TSF will also make sure rescue teams have sufficient communication means to respond to the disaster and communicate right at the heart of the affected area. If needed, TSF will install Emergency Communication Centres with a satellite-based Broadband Internet connection, voice communications and all the necessary IT equipment.

The government estimates that more than 300 people have been killed and dozens have been seriously injured. More than 2,000 houses have been destroyed in several villages. Rescue teams are concentrating efforts on building shelters for at least 3 000 people to protect them from extremely cold nights in this mountainous area.

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.

TSF still deployed in Honduras and Central African Republic

Also, TSF is still deployed in Honduras to support the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination teams (UNDAC). 200,000 people have been affected by serious floods and TSF's support facilitates aid coordination.

TSF is also in the Central African Republic (CAR) to support the work of the NGO International Rescue Committee (IRC). To facilitate coordination of IRC's operations Télécoms Sans Frontières is installing HF radio links to connect IRC's offices in Bangui to those in Bocaranga and Kaga-Bandoro situated respectively 400 and 250 kilometers from the capital.

TSF already equipped IRC's vehicles with radio systems to ensure staff security and enable communication from the remotest areas of the country.

About Télécoms Sans Frontières

Télécoms Sans Frontières: the leading humanitarian NGO specialised in emergency telecommunications

With its 24-hour monitoring centre and relying on its operational bases in France, Nicaragua and in Thailand, Télécoms Sans Frontières (TSF) crews of IT and telecoms specialists can intervene anywhere in the world in less than 24 hours after any sudden onset disaster or conflict and in a matter of minutes set up a satellite-based telecoms centre offering broadband Internet, phone and fax lines. These centres enable emergency NGO, the United Nations and local authorities to communicate right at the heart of event. They also facilitate the coordination of aid efforts. In parallel, TSF also runs humanitarian calling operation to offer support and assistance to affected civilians, giving them a link with the outside world from which they would be otherwise completely cut off.

TSF celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year. Since its creation in 1998, TSF deployed to over 50 countries and assisted almost 500 relief organisations and millions of victims. In 2006, TSF became a partner of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). TSF is First Responder of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC).

Télécoms Sans Frontières is also a working group member of the United Nations emergency telecoms body (WGET). TSF is a partner of the Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Commission (ECHO) and a member of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA).