Pakistan

Pakistan: Rains and Snowfall OCHA Situation Report No. 2

Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2005/33
OCHA Situation Report No. 2
Pakistan - Rains / Snowfall
13 February 2005
This situation report is based on information received from the office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Pakistan.

Situation

1. Heavy snowfall and rains over the past two weeks continue to cause substantive damages in Northern Areas, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), Balochistan and parts of Punjab Province.

2. In Pasni Tehsil (Balochistan), Shadi Kaur Dam burst after more than two weeks of heavy rains. According to the local authorities, the number of death has increased to 82, while more than 1,500 persons are still reported missing. Five villages and five wards of Pasni Township have been severely affected with over 5,500 people still trapped in floodwater and many houses destroyed. According to official sources, 25 persons have been killed by rains/floods in Turbat, 11 in Chaman, 9 in Pishin, 7 in Awaran and 10 in Jaffarabad and Naseerabad. Some 40,000 acres of standing crops is considered completely destroyed. The floods have also badly damaged nearly 40 kilometers of the Mekran Coastal Highway and partially damaged more than 250 kilometers at different points after which the highway was closed for traffic. Road networks linking the affected areas to the rest of the country have been badly damaged and traffic has been suspended.

3. According to the latest information, two more dams, one in Pasni and the other in Turbat, have burst due to continuing rains and six villages with a population of more than 3,000 have been completely inundated.

4. Heavy rains have also badly affected adjoining districts and townships including Ormara, Bela, Awaran, Kaetch, Turbat and areas around Dasht River. Many bridges have been washed away by flash floods and torrential rains causing massive destruction and damages to mud houses and small earthen dams built on self-help basis by the communities. There are reports of nearly half a million people being badly affected by heavy rains and flood with estimates of four thousand families without shelter.

5. The Government estimates that as many as 47 persons have been killed in Dir, Swat, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Battagram, Malakand and Mardan districts of North West Frontier Province. Hazard winter conditions have paralysed daily life in most parts of Abbottabad, Mansehra districts and Swat region, with the local population cut off as both road network and communication system are blocked. Electricity cuts have also been reported. Highway department and Pakistan Army are reported to be deploying heavy equipment to clear roads blocked due to heavy snow. There are reports of massive losses to mud houses and people becoming without shelter. Assessment of the damages is not possible at the moment as the road network is inoperative in the badly affected areas and helicopters unable to fly due to bad weather.

6. As many as 46 persons have been reported to be killed as a result of avalanches in Azad Jammu and Kashmir region. Till the time of compilation of the report, 12 bodies had been recovered while search continues for the rest of the people who are still buried under the avalanches.

7. On 12 February, a huge avalanche hit at least four houses in Kohistan district as a result of which at least 42 persons were buried alive raising the total death toll for NWFP to 194. These persons have been killed in Dir, Swat, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Battagram, Malakand and Mardan districts of North West Frontier Province. Hazard winter conditions have paralysed daily life in most parts of Abbottabad, Mansehra districts and Swat region, with the local population cut off as both road network and communication system are blocked. Electricity cuts have also been reported. Highway Department and Pakistan Army are reported to be deploying heavy equipment to clear roads blocked due to heavy snow. There are reports of massive losses to mud houses and people becoming without shelter. Assessment of the damages is not possible at the moment as the road network is inoperative in the badly affected areas and helicopters unable to fly due to bad weather.

8. Eight members of a family were reported killed as a result of avalanches in Astore Valley in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. The avalanches also destroyed more than 35 houses and cattle sheds in the valley.

9. In the Broghal and Yarkhoon valleys of Chitral District (Northern Areas), some 4,000 vulnerable persons are completely cut off and isolated as a result of continuous snowfall since December 2004. While in Punjab, a number of houses have collapsed and nearly 120 persons reported injured.

10. 42 soldiers of the Pakistan Army were trapped in Khyber Agency on 10 February due to heavy snowfall. 16 of them have been rescued while the remaining 26 are still missing and search of the missing soldiers continuing despite the adverse weather conditions in the area.

National Response

11. The President visited Balochistan and toured the affected areas in Pasni and Gawadar. He announced a special package for the affected areas and assured that each bereaved family would get a cash compensation of Rs. 100,000 as well promised interest free long term loans to the marooned people.

12. Over 4,000 personnel from the Pakistan Army, Navy, Coast Guards and FC are undertaking search and rescue and relief operation in Pasni and other affected regions of Balochistan. The Government Authorities in Balochistan have established an emergency cell in the Chief Minister Secretariat to closely monitor the situation. Due to the disruption of communications in the affected areas limited information has been received and efforts are being made to obtain full information of the losses.

13. Emergency Relief Cell of the Federal Government has rushed two plane loads of relief supplies to Pasni and Gawadar. The items include 300 tents, 4,000 blankets, 200 anti-snake venom vials and water purification tablets. Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has rushed 500 tents and 700 blankets from Quetta to the affected area. 40 tones of food items are being sent by PRCS from Islamabad via Karachi by road. 7 helicopters and C-130 planes are being used for rescue and relief activities.

14. A network of NGOs and INGOs working in humanitarian relief have decided to send two assessment teams to the affected region in Pasni and Gawadar and in a meeting of the United Nations Disaster Management Team held today it has been agreed to coordinate the actions for maximizing relief efforts.

15. FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance, an INGO working in the northern areas has been instrumental in attracting support from the Federal Government and requested additional support for airlifting of relief supplies already stocked in Chitral. However, according to Government sources, food supplies already distributed in the area should suffice for a period of 4-6 weeks and some arrangement would need to be made to resume operation as the affected areas would still be out of reach by land routes until April, 2005.

International Response

16. The Government of Pakistan has not requested international assistance at this stage. However, the Federal Government has shown inclination to welcome help from bilateral and multilateral partners including UN. A meeting of the UN Disaster Management Team (UNDMT) chaired by the UN Resident Coordinator was held on 12 February to review the situation and it has been agreed to rush a team comprising of members from UNICEF, WFP, WHO and UNDP. The team is expected to assemble at Gawadar by Tuesday 15 February at the latest and undertake needs assessment for emergency humanitarian relief requirements in close cooperation with the Provincial and District Government officials.

17. As an immediate step, UNICEF Pakistan is rushing a truckload of relief items to Bela for distribution among the affected populations. This consignment comprises of emergency food rations, aqua tabs, water purification tablets, toilet soap, jerry cans, filter cloth, fibre glass tank, plastic containers, sweaters, woollen blankets and water filters.

18. UNHCR will contribute US$ 20,000 in the form of tents and other shelter items which will be delivered to the affected populations in Pasni and Gawadar.

19. WHO will contribute US$ 25,000 worth of emergency medical supplies for the affected population.

20. UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is contributing through UNDP Islamabad US$ 30,000 for the purchase of tents and blankets. Possibility is being explored by OCHA for additional allocation for shelter needs, as the requirements are enormous. The international community would also be briefed for rendering necessary help. The Office of the UN Resident Coordinator is monitoring the situation and is in close contact with the authorities concerned at the Federal, Provincial and District levels and would continue to review the situation on regular basis. The next meeting of the UNDMT would be taking place on Monday 14 February 2005 and an update on the situation issued accordingly.

21. OCHA is in close contact with the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Pakistan and will revert with further information as required.

22. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int

Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23
E-mail: ochagva@un.org

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officers:
Mr. Dusan Zupka
Direct Tel. +41-22-917-1645

Press contact:
(GVA) Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, direct Tel. + 41-22-917 2653
(N.Y.) Ms. Stephanie Bunker, direct Tel. +1-917-8921679

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