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9,000 Still Missing in Quake-Hit Areas

At least 9,000 people are still missing in Azad Kashmir and the North West Frontier Province following the Oct. 8 earthquake. Maj. Gen. Farooq said the exact figure of the dead is still not final given the fact that over 9,000 people are missing.

9,000 Still Missing in Quake-Hit Areas

At least 9,000 people are still missing in Azad Kashmir and the North West Frontier Province following the Oct. 8 earthquake. Maj. Gen. Farooq Ahmad Khan, who regularly briefs the press on the relief and rehabilitation work, confirmed that more than 9,000 people in the earthquake-affected area were still unaccounted for. Maj. Gen. Farooq said the exact figure of the dead is still not final given the fact that over 9,000 people are missing.

Farooq said most of the missing people belong to the NWFP. He said debris at some of the affected areas in Balakot, Mansehra, Garhi Habibullah, Shogran, Sri Kot and adjoining villages have not been removed and many bodies may be found after the rubble are removed.

Farooq said Cuba has promised to donate its 32 field hospitals to Pakistan, which are currently providing medical treatment to thousands of earthquake survivors. "Cuba has informed us that its doctors and paramedics will leave behind all the 32 field hospitals on completion of their stay in the quake-hit areas," Farooq said.

He said that Cuban team will stay in Pakistan until end of March. Asked if the federal relief commission has also asked Germany and France to donate their medical and other quake-related assets to Pakistan, Farooq said, "We have made this request to all the countries engaged in the relief operations."

He said that the Iranian doctors and paramedics left their field hospital in the quake-hit Kashmir region when they left the country. Farooq, who is also the Federal Relief Commissioner, confirmed that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) troops would leave Pakistan after their 90-day mandatory stay in the Kashmir region.

Farooq said Pakistan Army troops and civil authorities have so far provided one-room shelters, built out of the rubble of collapsed houses, to over 200,000 people living above 5,000-feet altitude. "The focus has now shifted to areas below 5,000 feet," he said.

Meanwhile, an international aid group said yesterday thousands of quake survivors are caught in a desperate struggle for survival in the Himalayan cold and need urgent help.

"The falling temperatures could be lethal," British-based Oxfam Director Barbara Stocking told a news conference after a tour of areas ravaged by the quake in Azad Kashmir and northwestern province.

The warning came three months after the country's worst natural disaster that killed more than 73,000 people and left an estimated 3.5 million homeless.

Around 1,000 US troops and NATO units have been helping Pakistan in relief and rehabilitation efforts of survivors, shuttling supplies by helicopter and treating the injured at field hospitals.

Stocking called for an enhanced international response to the United Nation appeal for around $550 million, launched in November, which had so far brought in only 40 percent of the needed funds.

Children are falling sick in the freezing temperatures suffering from respiratory ailments while heating has been a problem because of the risk of tent fire, Stocking said.

She said Oxfam had provided shelter to 127,000 people and improved water and sanitation conditions for some 150,000. "There is so much more that needs to be done urgently. We need to improve conditions in the spontaneous camps and reach those who have stayed further up the mountain," she said.

Oxfam urged the international community to honor its pledges and deliver resources to prevent another humanitarian catastrophe. Pakistan has received aid pledges of more than $6 billion, of which $2 billion is in the form of grants.

Source: Arab News

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