Bad weather makes life tougher for quake survivors

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

While Aid starts to pour in to the worst hit areas of South Asia Earthquake that has killed more than 30,000 people, bad weather is hampering the relief efforts with snow falling on the peaks of the earthquake-devastated areas of Pakistan.

The measure of human suffering can't just be measured in the death toll, which officially stands at 23,000, but also in the 4 million who have been made homeless, hungry, and cold with 1 million in acute need, facing certain death without outside assistance. In the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, authorities say at least 1,300 people are known to have died, but officials fear the number will rise.

ABC Australia reports of a man in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, who has been cut from aid, saying "I find that we are alone now. We have nothing. We are finished."

Choppers are the main lifeline of support; trucks are unable to deliver relief supplies due to looting and general mayhem on the ground. The more snow, the less able aid agencies are to make their way to those in the direst need.

Jan Vandemoortele, U.N. Resident Coordinator for Pakistan, said key roads into the quake zone have been reopened, as 30 countries including Australia, France, Japan, Jordan, China, Russia, Iran, Syria and the US provide assistance in the form of money, doctors, tents, blankets, and disaster relief teams.

United Nations officials are warning of a growing threat of measles, cholera, and diarrhea outbreaks among the millions of survivors.

There have been no reports of epidemic outbreaks so far, but the area's health infrastructure has completely collapsed, Vandemoortele said.