Monday, October 24, 2005

'Help victims before more die'

Kofi Annan warns huge shortfall in south Asia quake relief funds risks "massive second wave of death".

The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, warned today that a huge shortfall in relief funds after the south Asia earthquake risked causing a "massive second wave of death".

Mr Annan said that with so many people still in need of shelter, food and other aid in Pakistan, the risk to life there was "not over yet".

He appealed for a big increase in international donations, saying that of the funds secured so far only 12% had been given with firm commitments.

He said this sum amounted to only £20m of the UN's appeal for £176m after the October 8 quake, which is estimated to have killed 79,000 people as it devastated Pakistani Kashmir and the surrounding regions.

By contrast, Mr Annan said, within 10 days of December's tsunami appeal the UN had received more than 80% of the funds it needed.

He said he would be attending an emergency donors' conference in Geneva next week, which the UN was convening.

Speaking at a press conference at the UN's headquarters in New York, Mr Annan said: "There are no excuses ... If we are to show ourselves worthy of calling ourselves members of humankind, we must rise to this challenge."

He called for "an immediate and exceptional escalation of the global relief effort".

An estimated 3 million survivors were homeless and facing the "merciless" Himalayan winter, Mr Annan said, adding that there was an urgent need for 450,000 more winter tents and shelters, plus 2m blankets and sleeping bags. Without the aid, there would be a "second, massive wave of death", he warned.

Relief teams are struggling to distribute aid over a disaster area of some 11,000 sq miles. The quake blocked roads, hampering relief efforts and stopping aid workers from reaching remote villages.

More than 80 helicopters from various countries are taking part in the operation. The UN's relief coordinator, Jan Egeland, said today he was asking Nato for more helicopters.

Speaking in Geneva, Mr Egeland said the quake had caused a "logistical nightmare" that was making the delivery of aid even more difficult than it had been after the tsunami.

He said he was urging Nato officials to "think big", adding: "The world has more helicopters than ever and must deploy more of them to help the quake victims, because many have yet to be reached with food and shelter."

* A boy of 12 was confirmed today as the first British fatality in the earthquake. A Foreign Office spokeswoman said the boy, from Luton, Bedfordshire, had been in the disaster area with his family at the time of the quake. His family are believed to still be in the area.

By The Guardian posted 24 October 05


Death toll in Pakistan quake up to 54,000
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- At least 40,000 people in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir died in last week's earthquake, a Pakistani official said Sunday. That would raise the overall death toll in the disaster to more than 54,000.

Pakistan India Earth Quake Support
9, 2005, MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan - Rescuers struggled to reach remote, mountainous areas Sunday after Pakistan's worst-ever earthquake wiped out entire villages, buried roads in rubble and knocked out electricity and water supplies. The death toll stood at 20,000 and was expected to rise.

Devastating quake kills 20,000 in Pakistan and India
A major earthquake on Saturday morning measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale has devastated cities, towns and villages across northern Pakistan. The official death toll in Pakistan reached 19,369 yesterday with over 42,000 people injured, but casualties are expected to climb further as rescue workers reach outlying areas. Hundreds more were killed in Indian-controlled Kashmir. The worst affected in both countries were the poor who lived in cheap housing built of mud brick and wood.

World races clock to help quake victims
Rescue teams and aid pledges have poured into Pakistan from around the world after the devastating earthquake that has killed about 20,000 people.