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South Asia earthquake: Helicopters bring aid to remote areas

© UNICEF/HQ05-1451/Pirozzi
Pakistani soldiers load UNICEF relief supplies from a truck onto an army helicopter at a helipad set up at a local stadium in the town of Manshera. The supplies are going to a village in the Keran Valley in Kashmir.

By A. Sami Malik and Maya Dollarhide

MANSEHRA, Pakistan/NEW YORK, 12 October 2005 – Survivors are struggling to stay alive after the South Asia earthquake that claimed at least 33,000 lives and injured at least 50,000 more. At present more than 120,000 people are in urgent need of shelter; the number of people left homeless as a result of the disaster could rise to over 4 million. Among the critical supplies being rushed to affected areas are tents and tarpaulins.

One in five persons in the affected areas is a child under the age of five. UNICEF has issued an appeal for over $64 million to help children and families affected by the disaster.

A supply hub has been set up in Mansehra, located in an especially hard-hit area of Pakistan. Incoming supplies are routed to a warehouse, and then to the Mansehra stadium, which is now being used as a helipad. Helicopters, among them two on loan to UNICEF from the Pakistani government, are being used to carry medical kits, blankets, tents, clothing and other essential items to areas unreachable by road.

© UNICEF/HQ05-1453/ Pirozzi
Helicopters take off from Mansehra stadium, which is currently being used as a helipad.

Crowds have gathered at the stadium to watch the relief efforts. Many of the people present have already been the beneficiaries of aid themselves.

Supplies for survival

Hasnain, a boy who was among the crowd at the stadium, said he lost everything when his village of Batgram was destroyed. “I lost my father and a sister when our house collapsed in the earthquake. I am staying with relatives in Mansehra. I have nothing warm to wear,” he said, as he watched the supplies being loaded. (Before the shipment was sent off, he received a blanket and a sweater.)

© UNICEF/HQ05-1449/ Pirozzi
Pinpointing delivery locations for supply shipments.

Among the supplies are 300,000 Aquatabs (water purification tablets), 375 cartons of nutritional biscuits, 500 tents, 12,000 rolls of tarpaulin, 10,000 blankets and 12,000 sweaters of associated sizes.

Tens of thousands of children and families, their homes badly damaged or destroyed, are currently surviving outside exposed to the elements.
“The temperatures here are dropping every night,” said Spry-Leverton. “We have to move fast and get blankets to the children, to keep them warm. They are exposed to deteriorating weather and living near snow-filled mountains. A bitter wind has recently risen, and the weather is unseasonably cold.”




10 October 2005:
Dan Toole, Director of UNICEF's Office of Emergency Programmes, talks about the response to the earthquake.

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10 October 2005:
UNICEF Health Officer Dr. Tamur Mueenuddin describes the situation for children and their families in Mansehra, Pakistan and the surrounding villages after the earthquake.
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