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Quake survivors seen still at risk

Quake survivors seen still at risk

At least 1.8 million survivors of last year's massive earthquake in Pakistan are to spend a second Himalayan winter in makeshift shelters, aid agency Oxfam said yesterday.
The 7.6-magnitude quake on October 8, 2005 killed more than 74,000 people and left 3.5 million homeless. Aid agencies say they prevented deaths from disease and cold last winter but fear for survivors this time around.
"With snow already falling, this winter seems to have arrived early," said Farhana Faruqi Stocker of Oxfam International.
Only 17 percent of people living in the 450,000 households destroyed or severely households by the quake have started building permanent homes, Oxfam said, quoting Pakistan government estimates.
"Oxfam estimates at least 80 percent of the remaining families, equivalent to 1.8 million people, are still living in temporary shelters with the rest staying with friends and relatives."
More than 40,000 people were known to be in tents in the official camps while thousands others were believed to be in unofficial camps and tents close to their home villages, it said.
The sheer scale of the catastrophe, difficult terrain, poor infrastructure and harsh weather have hindered reconstruction, meaning that many are still at risk with snow already falling in one of the world's highest regions, it said.
A recent Oxfam survey of 17 earthquake-hit villages found that virtually all those who were living in tents lacked adequate protection against winter weather, the group warned.
Thousands of others in rural areas are also at risk because roads and paths for the supply of vital food, fuel and medicine are often blocked by snow and landslides, Oxfam added.
Stocker said that besides materials to protect their homes against the harsh conditions, people in temporary shelter in rural and mountain areas need sustained access to safe heating and other essential items.
"When we see that one year after Hurricane Katrina, the world's richest nation, the U.S., is struggling with the reconstruction of New Orleans, it is no surprise that Pakistan has faced difficulties in the recovery across a much bigger area and much more difficult terrain," she said.
The United Nations said recently that it would take the quake zone 10 years to fully recover.


Updated : 2021-06-16 22:07 GMT+08:00