ASIA EARTHQUAKE: SPARC's Response to the Disaster (11 October 2005)

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Summary: Children are worst affected by the devastating earthquake in southern part of the Frontier Province. Balakot has been totally destroyed and almost 90 per cent of the structures have been completely ruined, these were the observations of the SPARC’s team in Balakot, assessing the situation and extend whatever help that is possible.

[11 October 2005] -  A women Teacher Kinza was found dead with a child still under her. She protected the child otherwise the child would not have survived. Children are worst affected by the devastating earthquake in southern part of the Frontier Province. Balakot has been totally destroyed and almost 90 per cent of the structures have been completely ruined, these were the observations of the SPARC’s team in Balakot, assessing the situation and extend whatever help that is possible.

The team informed from Balakot that whatever emergency relief is been provided in Balakot is on an individual basis, from the people from different parts of the country. Unfortunately relief from the federal or provincial governments has not reached Balakot despite the fact that 72 hours have passed after SPARC raised their concern.

SPARC’s team was present at the Shaheen Public School where the body of teacher Kinza was found with many other children who have been rescued by the French team led by the French Embassy’s Defense Attaché. Had the rescuers reached the site earlier and the government sent rescue teams in time, a number of children could have been found alive. Now with the passage of time the hope of rescuing people alive is becoming bleak. Hundreds of children are still under the debris of the devastated school buildings. The majority of the children rescued have no parents now. Where will they go, what help the government is providing?

Hundreds of dead bodies are still under the debris of the devastated houses in Balakot and there is a pungent smell in the area which can also cause epidemics. Rescue workers have reached from other parts of the world but local resources are still to be mobilised. People need tents, water, food and medicines, informed SPARC’s team from Balakot.

Due to fear and smashed houses people are spending their nights under the open sky. Their situation is worsening as rains will be starting soon informed the team on Tuesday morning. The emphasis should be on rescue, tents and food. When government is paralysed the corporate sector and NGOs should come forward to help people said SPARC’s press release.

SPARC is concerned over the delay in the response from agencies and demand from the federal and provincial governments to immediately send rescue and medical teams to Balakot. SPARC has established relief camps in around 30 districts across Frontier, Punjab and Sindh through its Child Rights Committees and is collecting relief goods e.g. food items, blankets, medicines and clothes for children. SPARC’s Peshawar office has sent medicines and blankets to Balakot today.

Arshad Mahmood

Deputy National Coordinator

 

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