October 2, 2003
On October 2, MSF sent an emergency team in response to waves of earthquakes in the Kosh-Agach region of Siberia, Russia. Nearly 17,000 people have been affected by the quakes, which have left 18-foot wide and 1,200-foot high fissures in some places.
Twelve villages were struck by the series of quakes registering more than 7 on the Richter scale. According to Russian authorities, six hospitals have been destroyed and a further 12 have been partially damaged.
"The inaccessibility of the region has been one of the biggest challenges," said MSF emergency coordinator Charles Goethals. "Not only in terms of the vast distances to cover, but also because more than 60 miles of road has been blocked by debris from the quakes. But in the last few days we have been able to dispatch one team from Moscow and another from Kemerovo with drugs, medical materials and blankets."
Although the number of casualties is reportedly low, the days following the quakes have seen a marked increase in incidences of trauma, stress syndromes and respiratory disorders. MSF has responded through the distribution of required medicines to still functioning health centers and hospitals.
"But one of the biggest worries," said Goethals, "is that with so many homes destroyed and the temperature dropping to nearly 0Â° Farenheit at night, the cold might prove to be just as dangerous for the people as the earthquake itself."
In addition to medicines, a 7-member MSF team will distribute locally purchased clothes as well as 1,500 blankets and 1,500 hygienic kits.
© 2013 Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)