Pakistan: Weather - IRIN: 10-Mar-05

IRIN PAKISTAN: Emergency relief still needed in Balochistan and northern areas 10 March 2005

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] ISLAMABAD, 10 March (IRIN) - About 100,000 people are still stranded with limited food supplies in the remote northern valleys of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP) following weeks of widespread torrential rains, snowfall, landslides, avalanches and flooding. "Relief supplies of food and medicine from various national and international agencies have started reaching some of the snowbound areas. However, generally there is a severe shortage of edible items as the small roads have been closed in many districts for over a month now and local authorities lack bulldozers to clear the roads," World Health Organization (WHO) emergency medical officer Dr Quaid Saeed told IRIN from the town of Swat, some 250 km north of the Pakistani capital Islamabad. More than 24,000 houses are reported destroyed and over 65,000 have been badly damaged across the northern districts of the province, according to provincial relief authorities. But getting to affected communities in upland districts of Upper Dir, Swat, Shangla, Kohistan, Battagram and Mansehra is proving difficult due to continuing bad weather. The WHO has planned to set up six disease surveillance centres in the Swat district to get weekly updates about health conditions in the area. In the southwestern province of Balochistan, at least 130 people have been confirmed dead since the harsh weather started in January, while scores have been reported injured, according to provincial relief authorities there. In addition, heavy rains have caused huge damage to communication networks, houses, livestock and agriculture across the province, the poorest in Pakistan. "The relief operation is going on, though at a slower pace. The roads in many parts of the northern zone are still closed due to landslides and increased water flow as the rains are continuing and causing huge damage to houses, particularly those made of mud," Raziq Bugti, head provincial relief activities, told IRIN from the provincial capital Quetta. Torrential rains and flash flooding over past two weeks have left thousands of people homeless in the southern coastal districts of Gawadar, Kech, Chagai, Noshki, Panjgoor and Awaran, and in Qilla Abdullah, Qillah Saifullah, Pishin and Zhob in the northern part of the province. "Makeshift arrangements have been made to house people in public buildings and provide tents and blankets to those living outside. However, many in several remote areas are still struggling with a shortages of tents, blankets and food supplies in the far-flung areas of the province," Bugti said. Many of the villages in the coastal belt have been flooded due to overflowing reservoirs, which were built close to villages by local people to provide irrigation water. In Balochistan, nearly half a million people were badly affected by heavy rains and floods in the earlier weeks of February, with an estimated 4,000 families being left homeless in the southern coastal belt. Meanwhile, hundreds of coal workers have been reported trapped in the remote Sor-range coalfield, some 20 km southeast of Quetta. The miners working there are largely migrants either from NWFP or Afghanistan, labouring in very poor conditions. "In bad weather, the [Sor-range] mines are closed and now the roads are not traffic-worthy to shift the workers to other places," the relief official said. Less intense rains are forecast to continue at regular intervals during the rest of March in the northern areas of Balochistan, NWFP, Punjab and Pakistan-administered Kashmir. [ENDS] IRIN-CEA Tel: +254 2 622147 Fax: +254 2 622129 Email: IRIN@ocha.unon.org [This Item is Delivered to the "Africa-English" Service of the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. For further information, free subscriptions, or to change your keywords, contact e-mail: IRIN@ocha.unon.org or Web: http://www.irinnews.org . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Reposting by commercial sites requires written IRIN permission.] Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2005 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Appropriate Donations for International Disaster/Humanitarian Needs - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Center for International web: www.cidi.org Disaster Information listserv: www.cidi.org/listsub.htm guidelines: www.cidi.org/donate.htm - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -