Pakistan

Pakistan: Storm/Cyclone Yemyin - Information Bulletin n° 2

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Situation Report
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The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in 185 countries.

In Brief

This Bulletin (no. 02/2007) is being issued for information only, and reflects the status of the situation and information available at this time. The Federation is not seeking funding or other assistance from donors for this operation at this time.

Summary: As the southern Pakistan city of Karachi, in Sindh province, clears up following the severe storm that hit over the weekend, a new threat has emerged, with tropical cyclone Yemyin likely to result in extremely heavy rainfall along the coast of the neighbouring province of Baluchistan. Communities are being evacuated from along the Baluchistan coast. Local media reports that 14 people have died so far due to heavy rains in Baluchistan.

The storm that hit Karachi claimed about 72 lives (according to government figures) though the death toll could be over 200 people, based on the numbers of bodies recovered by private ambulance services. The Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS) is providing medical assistance to affected people in Karachi and the adjoining districts of Badin and Thatta, while emergency response teams are also assisting communities. Disaster stocks for 400 families are in place, ready to be distributed.

In Baluchistan, the PRCS has despatched disaster stocks for 400 families in Turbat and Hub Chauki towns. An assessment team is expected to reach Turbat by 27th June, while a disaster response team is already in place in Hub Chauki.

The Situation

The storm that lashed the city of Karachi, in Sindh province of southern Pakistan, on Saturday 23rd June, has eased. The new threat is heavy rain as a result of tropical cyclone Yemyin, which made landfall at the port city of Ormara in Baluchistan province around 1200 hours local time, on the day of reporting.

Heavy rains are forecast for the coastal areas of Baluchistan as Yemyin proceeds in a west-north westerly direction. According to the Pakistan meteorological office, there is a threat of flooding along the coast and inland in hilly areas of the province. Local government authorities report that approximately 3,000 people in coastal towns in Baluchistan have been evacuated so far, as a precautionary measure. The total population along the coast is approximately 300,000. The Pakistan meteorological department forecasts that the towns of Jiwani and Gwadar will be affected during the next 48 hours.

The storm, with heavy rain and strong winds, that hit Karachi on 23rd June (at around 1700 hours local time) resulted in the deaths of about 72 people (according to government figures) though the death toll could be over 200 people, based on the number of bodies recovered by private ambulance services. Most of the deaths in Karachi resulted from flying debris, electrocution from fallen power lines and collapsed roofs and walls.

One of the worst hit areas in Karachi was the slum area of Gadap, where about 1,000 shanty homes were destroyed. The districts of Badin and Thatta, in Sindh province, also received heavy rain and authorities are on alert for possible evacuations in these districts.

According to a health officer from the Sindh provincial branch of the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS), there are growing health risks in Karachi and in the neighbouring districts, due to the large amounts of standing water following the heavy rainfall. The major problems are gastroenteritis, skin diseases, pneumonia, eye infections, viral hepatitis and viral infections.

Red Cross and Red Crescent action

Sindh

The Sindh provincial branch of the PRCS deployed three medical teams in Karachi to treat and assist people injured/affected by the storm. The teams are operating on the day of reporting and are expected to assist 500-600 people over two days. One team is working in the hard hit Gadap slum area, while the other teams are working in the Liyari and Manora areas of the city. Each team comprises two doctors, three paramedics and a driver (who will conduct a registration of all patients). Two PRCS medical centres in the central part of Karachi provided first aid to 166 patients on 25th June, and referred another 47 patients to hospital.

Four emergency response teams have been dispatched to the districts of Thatta and Badin, in Sindh province. In each district, emergency relief supplies for 200 families are pre-positioned and will be distributed, as required by the teams. Each family set consists of 5-6 blankets, a tent, a utensil set, jerry can, hurricane lamp, plastic sheets (two per family) and rice packs. The emergency response teams in the two districts have so far provided medical assistance and first-aid to affected communities and are also keeping communities informed about evacuation plans being outlined by local authorities. The PRCS basic health unit in Thatta is operating on a 24-hour basis to treat people affected by the storm. The disaster management officer from the Badin district branch has been working with local volunteers since 25th June, helping evacuate some vulnerable families living close to the coastline.

Baluchistan

The Baluchistan provincial branch of the PRCS is transporting relief items for 400 families from Quetta to Turbat and Hub Chauki towns (200 sets each) as both these areas are expected to receive extremely heavy rain, as a result of cylone Yemyin. The stocks are expected to be in place by 27th June. Each family set consists of a tent, two tarpaulins, 2-3 jerry cans and a hurricane lamp. The branch headquarters may despatch more relief stocks to Gwadar area, depending on the situation.

Accompanying the stock items to Turbat is a disaster assessment team, consisting of four members - a disaster management manager, warehouse manager, medical dispenser and a driver trained in disaster response. The PRCS has no branch structure in Turbat, so it will liaise and work with the local government to assist with distributions.

A PRCS disaster response team, consisting of a disaster management officer and 30 volunteers, has been in place in the coastal town of Hub Chauki since 25th June. The team has been assisting with evacuations and warning local fisherman not to go to sea.

Coordination

The PRCS's Baluchistan and Sindh provincial branches are liaising with the respective local government authorities in their provinces. The provincial governments in both Sindh and Baluchistan have established disaster coordination offices and are collating data and information. Both branches of the PRCS are in frequent contact with the PRCS national headquarters and the Federation Pakistan delegation is also being kept fully informed on developments.

The disaster response teams in Thatta and Badin districts, in Sindh, and the team at Hub Chauki, in Baluchistan, are coordinating with the district coordination officers in their respective areas.

The Federation Pakistan delegation sent, on the day of reporting, a disaster management manager and an information officer from Islamabad to Karachi. They will support the Sindh provincial branch headquarters before heading to Turbat to link up with the Baluchistan branch assessment team by 28th June, to support them.

The Federation deputy head of delegation attended a United Nations (UN) general coordination meeting in Islamabad, on the day of reporting, and briefed them on the PRCS response. The UN is monitoring the situation but, at this stage, has not deployed any of its agencies to the affected areas.

How we work

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

The Federation's Global Agenda

The International Federation undertakes activities that are aligned with its Global Agenda, which sets out four broad goals to meet the Federation's mission to "improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity".

Global Agenda Goals:

- Reduce the numbers of deaths, injuries and impact from disasters.

- Reduce the number of deaths, illnesses and impact from diseases and public health emergencies.

- Increase local community, civil society and Red Cross Red Crescent capacity to address the most urgent situations of vulnerability.

- Reduce intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion and promote respect for diversity and human dignity.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

Pakistan Red Crescent Society: Khalid Kibriya (Secretary General); email: khalid_kibriya@yahoo.com; phone: +92 51 925 0407; fax +92 51 925 0408.

Federation country delegation in Pakistan: Asar ul Haq (disaster management programme manager); email asar.muhammad@ifrc.org ; phone +92 300 856 8136. Azmat Ulla (head of delegation); email: azmat.ulla@ifrc.org; phone: +92 51 9250416 1; mobile: +92 300 850 3317

Federation South Asia regional delegation in India: Nina Nobel (acting head of regional delegation); email: nina.nobel@ifrc.org; phone: +91.11. 2411.1125; fax: +91.11. 2411.1128

Federation Secretariat in Geneva (Asia Pacific department): Christine South, (regional officer South Asia); email christine.south@ifrc.org; phone +41 22 730 4529; fax +4122 733 0395