Snow May Hinder Quake Relief in Pakistan

Heavy snow was forecast for quake-ravaged Pakistani Kashmir to start the new year, threatening to hinder relief operations to the millions left homeless by the disaster, officials said Saturday.

Snow May Hinder Quake Relief in Pakistan

Aid agencies have warned the brutal Himalayan winter could hamper aid deliveries and create conditions ripe for illnesses among survivors of the massive Oct. 8 quake. A cold wave followed by rain was expected to hit Pakistani Kashmir late Saturday, with heavy snow to follow a day later, Pakistan's Meteorological Department said.

According to Pakistani officials, the 7.6-magnitude temblor killed 87,000 people and left 3.5 million homeless. The U.N. estimates that 2.5 million people are living in tents below 5,000 feet, while others are still at risk in higher areas, where snow and rains may make it more difficult for helicopters and trucks to reach them.

In Pakistani Kashmir's capital Muzaffarabad, however, officials said they believed they would still be able to fly helicopters through the storm. Army engineers would also work to keep the roads open. "We are prepared to face heavy rains and snow, and we will continue (relief) operations even during the harsh winter," said Pakistan army spokesman Maj. Farooq Nasir.

Some snow fell on mountaintops above 7,000 feet in Kashmir and northwestern Pakistan weeks ago, but it did not interfere with relief operations.

Andrew Macleod, chief of U.N. relief operations in Pakistan, urged the world community to continue contributing money to enable U.N. and other agencies to keep helping survivors. "I don't think the world fully understands how big this natural disaster really is," he told reporters Friday in Muzaffarabad.

Also Saturday, an eight-member Congressional delegation headed by Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., visited Muzaffarabad, where they met with survivors and doctors at the U.S. Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. They also visited Shinkiari, a town in Kashmir where a Marine medical unit is providing care for about 200 people a day.

Porter said the lawmakers were saddened over the destruction in Kashmir and assured their continued support to Pakistan in its efforts to get aid to survivors. "We are very proud of what we are doing, and we need to continue our help," he said.

Source: Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16