Pakistan

Pakistan: People uprooted by quake yet to receive winterised tents

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By Iftikhar A. Khan

ISLAMABAD, Nov 2: Thousands of quake-affected people in Balochistan are still waiting for winterised tents with temperatures dropping below freezing point at nights and threat of snowstorms looming large.

Talking to Dawn, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Gen Farooq Ahmad Khan conceded that no winterised tents had so far been sent to the affected areas.

"We have tried to compensate it by sending a huge quantity of blankets and getting the gas connections restored on a war footing," he said. He said 143 gas connections were yet to be restored.

Answering a question, Gen Farooq said some friendly countries had been asked to send winterised tents.

Turkey has agreed to provide pre-fabricated houses and the first consignment of 10 containers with 120 units will arrive soon.

According to latest estimates, he said the quake had left 166 people dead and 347 injured. The number of people displaced by the calamity is around 7,000.

He said under a compensation package for the survivors corrugated sheets and cash grants would be given for rebuilding houses.

Facing complaints from the affected people, the local army commander has also stressed the need for providing winterised tents on an emergency basis.

The extent of the devastation was yet to be fully assessed, an article posted at a UN website said. The International Committee of the Red Cross was assessing needs and extending help to the affected people.

With at least 4,000 houses destroyed, thousands of people are without shelter. Others, worried about aftershocks, are staying out in the open. Many of the wounded evacuated to hospitals in Quetta for emergency treatment were braving the chilly nights and sleeping outside. Beds had to be placed outside the hospitals. The figures are bound to be revised as more details of the devastation emerge.

According to ICRC teams, the problem of shelter will inevitably become more acute. The affected region is 2,000-2,500 metres above sea level.

Although it has not started snowing yet, temperatures drop below zero degrees Celsius at night. This is a major concern for people without shelter.

Most of the houses are made of mud, light wooden pole structures and straw roofing. They are not solid enough to withstand powerful earthquakes.

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