Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Kashmir Update by ADEPT: Is this the Beginning of the New Disaster?

(ADEPT's International climbing team is ready awaiting permission from the government to move in)

Quake affected Kashmir experienced the seasons first heavy snowfall since yesterday. The upper reaches of the Kashmir valley, in India, experienced a fresh spell of snowfall, resulting in considerable drop in temperatures. Border areas of Karnah, in Baramulla district, recorded about two and a half feet of snowfall, leading to road block. Gurez, one of the worst affected areas in the earthquake, and Sadhna Top in Kupwara also had six inches of snowfall each. The Baramulla town experienced light snowfall followed by rains, which disrupted normal life. The Sriangar-Leh national highway has been officially closed down for the six winter months. All traffic personnel deployed on the highway have been withdrawn. Official sources warned that anybody still plying their vehicles on the highway will be doing at their own risk. There is risk of landslies due to the rains. Helicopters have been grounded.

With no written titles to property in the area, and with considerable risk of property being stolen, villagers prefer to stay put and brave the winter exposure. Many temporary shelters in the area are enmarshed in the mud created by rain. Sanitary conditions are worse than ever.

The first deaths of an infant and an old man, due to exposure, were reported yesterday from Pakistan. While relief oganisations are building shelters as fast as they can, with heavy rains and a fresh blanket of snow, it isn’t fast enough for those who have been living rough since the Oct. 8 earthquake. A large number of tents and tin sheets purchased and stockpiled for the purpose of providing shelter, have yet to be delivered, with weather conditions worsening every day. ADEPT's partner, the Catholic Relief Services, have completed about 28% of planned distribution of tin sheets. Further bad weather ahead will leave villagers in the isolated mountains without food, shelter or other aid. Those already suffering from respiratory infection are at risk for Pneumonia. Children and the elderly risk hypothermia.

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February 13, 2006 11:52 PM