Relief efforts: Army to the rescue, again!

600 troops, 21 doctors, 50 paramedics reach Awaran; NDMA launches relief operation.

Our Correspondents September 26, 2013
Army troops ride to the areas affected by the earthquake in military trucks on Wednesday. PHOTO: AFP


Over a 1,000 troops of the Pakistan army have been mobilised to be sent to the earthquake-hit areas of Balochistan. They will launch a massive relief and rescue operation in affected areas, according to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR).

More than 600 troops have been dispatched to Awaran from Malir Cantt along with male and female doctors and the medical equipment.

Giving details of the operation to help the stricken people, the military spokesman said, “Over 7,000 kg of food items, 1,000 kg medicines and 200 tents have been distributed among the survivors. Cooked food is also being provided to homeless people in Awaran.”

In addition, a field medical facility of 21 doctors and 50 paramedics is providing medical treatment to the injured in Khuzdar and Awaran, the worst-hit area, the spokesman added. A medical camp has been set up in Gwadar, a Pakistan Navy spokesman said.

So far, ten sorties have flown to the affected areas and six army helicopters are also participating in rescue operations.

According to the ISPR, Commander Southern Command Lt Gen Nasir Janjua, Frontier Corps IG Lt Gen Zia Shahid and General Officer (GOC) Commanding, Quetta Division, also visited the Awaran district.

Search and rescue teams pulled out more than 300 bodies from under the rubble of collapsed building in Awaran and Kech, said a National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) statement. NDMA said 285 persons died in Awaran and 373 were injured. As many as 43 people lost their lives in Kech district while 72 others sustained injuries.

“Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps (FC) and the civil administration are carrying out rescue efforts in the affected region,” said the NDMA which has placed 5,000 tents at the disposal of Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Balochistan from its strategic reserves at Karachi.

Resources were also mobilised to provide 7,000 food packs (53kg each) to the affected people in Awaran and Kech.

“Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) are being established in Khuzdar and Bela for logistical support and provision of essential supplies (food and non-food items),” the NDMA statement read, adding that causalities were being evacuated to Khuzdar, Bela, Thal and Karachi.

Chairman NDMA, Maj Gen Muhammad Saeed Aleem also visited Quetta to coordinate with the provincial government besides monitoring the rescue and relief activities under way in affected areas, said an NDMA spokesperson.

A military official told The Express Tribune that majority of the mud houses in Awaran, which is scattered over an area of 21,000 sq km had been destroyed. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official feared that the death toll was expected to rise higher.

He said the local Levies headquarters in Awaran district was also destroyed by the earthquake.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed the NDMA and the army to assist in relief activities. Nawaz, who is in New York to attend the UN General Assembly, directed the NDMA chairman to keep him updated on the losses, and relief and evacuation measures.

The federal government will provide all possible assistance to the victims and the NDMA and Pakistan Army should assist the local administration in relief activities, Nawaz Sharif was quoted as saying in an official statement.

“The prime minister has offered me a blank cheque to cater to the needs of the people of Awaran and Kech affected by a powerful earthquake,” the NDMA chairman told media at the Quetta airport. The Balochistan government has so far dispatched 19 truckloads of relief goods, food and medical equipment and medicines, spokesman for the provincial government, Jan Buleidi, said.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th, 2013.


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