Thousands still without shelter in earthquake-hit areas

AWARAN: Although the government, the army and some non-governmental organisations have been providing relief to people affected by two earthquakes in Awaran and Kech districts of Balochistan, thousands are still living without shelter and food.

The provincial government admitted that relief goods could not be transported to several areas because of security reasons and dilapidated condition of roads. Meanwhile, looting of relief was reported from Mashkay area.

Armed men took away three trucks and abandoned them after offloading supplies. Confirming the incident, officials said the government was making arrangements to provide security for smooth supply of relief to the affected areas.

Hundreds of thousands of people were rendered homeless after their houses were razed to the ground by the earthquakes which also destroyed wells and their other sources of water.

Citing an initial assessment, officials said 180,000 to 200,000 people had been affected by the quakes. About 35,000 houses collapsed or were badly damaged. Some villages in Awaran and Kech have been flattened.

RESCUE WORK REVIEWED: A meeting presided over by the chief secretary on Sunday reviewed rescue and relief activities in the quake-hit areas and decided to immediately provide 35,000 tents to the affected families. They will also be given ready-to-eat food and dry ration for one month.

“The Balochistan government has been making efforts and utilising all its available resources to provide shelter, drinking water, food and medicines to the affected families,” the chief secretary said. Besides, he added, the federal and provincial governments, the army and Frontier Corps and Edhi Foundation and some NGOs were also providing relief to the affected people.

He said there was no need for an international appeal because the government had adequate stock of tents, foodstuff, medicines and other items. But, he added, it was up to Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch to take a decision in this regard. The meeting was informed that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was expected to visit the quake-stricken districts after his return from New York and announce a package for rehabilitation of the affected families. It was told that 10,000 tents announced by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and 5,000 by Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah had started reaching the affected districts.

The Balochistan government has shifted the offices of commissioner and regional police officer of Kalat division to Awaran to monitor rescue and relief operation and law and order and ensure smooth supply of relief.

Balochistan government’s spokesman Mir Jan Mohammad Buledi and Provincial Disaster Management Authority’s director general Hafiz Abdul Basit told reporters that so far 153 trucks loaded with relief goods had reached the affected areas. Twenty trucks are being dispatched daily. They said a group of quake-hit people stopped a truck in Tarteej area on Sunday and took away relief goods, but added that such incidents were not unusual since people were hungry and needed food.

They said Mashkay had been badly affected by the earthquakes. “Four transport helicopters and a C-130 plane are being used to drop relief goods in Nokjo, Jeebri and other areas of Mashkay sub-division.”

They said 28 trucks carrying relief items had reached Mashkay and another 26 had been dispatched to the affected areas.

“We have decided to divide the affected areas into six sectors for better coordination between the civil administration and the army, FC and other stakeholders for distribution of relief goods,” Mr Basit said.

He said 18 people were killed and over 50 injured in Saturday’s earthquake in Nokjo.

Mr Buledi said the provincial government was serious about the relief work and that’s why the chief minister himself had been in Awaran for three days. He said Dr Malik and Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo, accompanied by officials, had visited Labach and other areas and distributed relief goods among the affected people.

DSS adds: The victims of Saturday’s earthquake have been buried.

“All the 22 victims were buried on Sunday in Nokjo village of Awaran district, which was badly affected by the quake yesterday,” a senior local government official said.

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