(the leaders of Pakistan and India are using the poor response to Hurricane Katrina in an effort to explain why this relief is moving so slow…cd)
ZAMAN DAILY NEWSPAPER (2005101325232)
Disaster Zone Snared in a Web of Disease Epidemic
By Mukremin Albayrak, Zaman, Cihan News Agency
Published: Wednesday, October 12, 2005
The massive death toll of the earthquake that razed the Pakistani region of Kashmir to the ground last Saturday has increased to 35,000.
Although four days has passed by since the 7.6-magnitude quake, the area now faces the serious threat of an epidemic disease disaster. The thousands of bodies that have not yet been removed from the remains of collapsed building pose a major threat to the health of survivors; the region is also unable to cope with the burial of those bodies that have been recovered. Survivors also suffer from a lack of food and water. Almost a thousand hospitals were completely destroyed in the quake-hit Kashmir region and torrential rains are also hampering the search-and-rescue efforts. Hundreds of thousands of survivors spent Monday night in the open air despite the pouring rain, and shelter has become one of the major problems facing those who survived. The death toll in Kashmir is expected to surpass 40,000.
The mountainous terrain has also created transportation problems in the disaster struck region making it virtually impossible to deliver adequate medicine, food and water to the remote regions; and this is, officials say, will also lead to an increase in health problems. People living in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir have resorted to drinking from open water sources after the towns water network collapsed. The city was further devastated following two hours of heavy rain Tuesday, and although the rain helped wash away the smell emanating from the remains of quake victims, it polluted the drinking water The slow rate at which search-and-rescue efforts are being conducted and the fact that bodies are being left in the streets makes the situation even worse. The organization of Doctors Without Borders warned against the risk of ârotting remains and water borneâ? epidemic disease that might further devastate the Kashmiri capital. A Turkish aid squad traveled to Muzaffarabad to provide medical treatment to almost 2,500 people and vaccinated them against many epidemic diseases. Aid food distribution centers located in the city center distributed just three cups of flour and a handful of dates to quake survivors.
A major health risk also exists for the injured that still have not received medical treatment. A thousand hospitals and village clinics were destroyed, and the remote hospitals in the region are unable cope with the demand. The Pakistani authority was unable to construct an emergency treatment center for those with minor injuries; therefore, almost all the wounded are being taken to hospitals in the nationâs capital Islamabad. The International Cure Hospital in Islamabad is such hospital. Due to the insufficient number of beds, the wounded are receiving treatment in the corridors, and the hospitalâs doctors are struggling to treat the high number of patients in need of immediate care.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf asked for more international help to recover from the greatest disaster to hit the country in the last 40. Aid being transported to the mountainous regions of Kashmir by helicopter is insufficient and the operations providing help, according to UN officials, have become completely chaotic. More than 20 helicopters sent by different countries were not enough reports say and at least 40 or 50 more are needed.
The Turkish Red Crescent, the first team to reach Islamabad, also managed to reach disaster areas outside Islamabad. The Turkish squad informed Cihan News Agency of their operations in Pakistan and reported that they have started to reach the devastated areas outside the capital and that aid from Turkey was being distributed. The âenemy brother countriesâ? in Southeastern Asia, Pakistan and India, announced that the earthquake did not damage their nuclear facilities.
Bureaucracy prevented the AKA, too
Bureaucratic obstacles have continued to prevent NGOs from carrying out their aid activities properly. The Arama Kurtarma Arastirma Dernegi (AKA), search and rescue association members have also faced various bureaucratic problems. A 21-member AKA team completing all the preliminary preparations and bureaucratic transactions required to travel to the earthquake hit region, said they still have not been granted permission to attend the region even though three days have passed since the earthquake struck. Urcun Caner, an AKA official for communications, noted that they would be ready to leave within ten minutes of receiving permission. Meanwhile, a new Turkish aid plane flew to Pakistan on Tuesday.
For further information please visit http://www.cihannews.com