Sunday, October 09, 2005

UN says "awesome" needs in Pakistan quake relief

A veteran UN relief expert on Sunday said there were massive needs in housing, health and water in the worst hit areas of Pakistan and Pakistani-held Kashmir after a devastating earthquake.

"The requirements that we are gradually being made aware of are awesome -- in terms of shelter, in terms of water sanitation, in terms of health," Gerhard Putnam-Cramer said in an interview with CNN. "There's a huge need for field hospitals and also of course for food. But the roads, as you may know, have been broken in a variety of places," he told the network. "They're under repair but that may take a number of days."

Pakistan said nearly 20,000 people were killed in Saturday's 7.6-magnitude quake, with the worst hit areas in North West Frontier Province and the Pakistani controlled area of the divided Himalayan region of Kashmir.

"The international teams are coming in. Many are prevented, though, from going further than Islamabad up to where there's a tremendous need for these teams," said Putnam-Cramer, who is helping to coordinate relief efforts. "In spite of the great efforts that are being done by the Pakistani armed forces and all the Pakistani government authorities concerned, assistance is required," he said.

He said teams were still in the middle of the search and rescue phase but warned that time could be running out for those still trapped under the rubble of ruined buildings since the quake hit on Saturday around 0350 GMT. "For that, there is only a certain window of opportunity of some 72 hours or so -- after which hope fades fast," he said.

Source: AFP via ReliefWeb
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