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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Aid floods into earthquake region

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Aid floods into earthquake region Aid floods into earthquake region
Aid is pouring into regions affected by Saturday's South Asian earthquake, after relief efforts were temporarily suspended because of bad weather.

But correspondents say there is concern about a lack of co-ordination, with supplies yet to reach remote areas.

UN officials have warned of a growing threat of disease, and are asking for aid delivery to be stepped up.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has announced she is to visit Pakistan to assess the devastation.

Ms Rice, who is on a scheduled tour of Central Asia and Afghanistan, will also meet President Pervez Musharraf.

Some four million people have been affected by the quake, which has claimed 23,000 lives, most in Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

In the Indian-administered part of Kashmir, the authorities say at least 1,300 people are now known to have died, but the number is likely to rise.

Traffic jam

The 7.6 magnitude quake damaged sanitation facilities, destroyed hospitals and killed medical staff.

Many survivors have no access to clean water, making them vulnerable to diseases such as malaria, cholera and measles.

The BBC's Andrew North in Balakot, one of the worst hit areas, says the road into the town is jammed with vehicles bringing in blankets, food and tents, with more supplies coming in by helicopter.

World Food Programme
Kashmir International Relief Fund
Red Cross/ Red Crescent

But around the town there are still thousands living in the open without proper assistance, and many more in villages up the valley, he says.

There are complaints about people from unaffected areas stealing aid supplies and looting collapsed homes, as the authorities struggle to keep order.

Another BBC correspondent, Dumeetha Luthra in Muzaffarabad, says she has yet to see large-scale relief operations there.

She says people are still having to search for water, food and blankets in the cold and damp conditions.

Flies buzz around bodies still lying in the streets.

Health plan

Sewage has contaminated the river Neelum, the city's main source of drinking water.

"Health services have totally collapsed here and malaria, gastroenteritis and water-borne diseases have already spread in worst-hit areas of the city," said Khawaja Shabir, the province's health chief.

Mr Shabir said plans to avert a major health crisis were being drawn involving the immediate removal of bodies and aerial spray on all affected areas.

Ms Rice pledged to mobilise long-term international support to help Pakistan, an important US military ally, recover from the disaster.

"I do want to affirm with the Pakistani people that the international community and the US are with them in this terrible time," she said in Kabul after arriving from Kyrgyzstan.

Torrential rains on Tuesday briefly grounded helicopters and slowed the progress of relief trucks on the roads.

Story from BBC NEWS:

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