Pakistan Earthquake: MSF Teams Assisting Worst-Affected Population

Valérie Batselaere/MSF
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On Wednesday, October 29, a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) team reached Ziarat, in the Balochistan region of Pakistan, the area most severely affected by an earthquake. The force of the earthquake destroyed most of the houses built of mud and people have been forced to sleep out in the cold. Approximately 150,000 people live in Ziarat district, situated in a vast mountainous area about 75 kilometers north of Quetta, with a population of about 50,000 most severely affected.

MSF immediately set up a 24-hour clinic to treat wounded—mainly cuts and bruises. The team dispatched blankets, cooking sets, jerry cans, tents and body bags from emergency supply stocks in Islamabad. A large aftershock occurred Wednesday evening, when many people were attending funerals to bury their dead.

MSF’s main concern is in gaining access to people living in small communities at higher elevations in the mountains and in providing them with medical care and relief supplies. Most of the area affected is more than 2,000 meters above sea level and temperatures drop to near freezing at night. Many people are sleeping in the open, fearing more tremors.

Today an MSF team returned to help people in Khan Killi, a second team advanced further into Pishin District to assess the situation, while a third mobile team explored other settlements and treated injured and distributed relief items.

Overall it seems to be a localized earthquake. However, the hilly Ziarat district has been badly affected and there are still areas that have not yet been reached by emergency aid. Project coordinator Stephen Cooper describes: “The people are trying their best to help themselves. Some areas have been severely affected, but the overall extent of destruction seems to be limited to a 25 to 30-kilometer belt. Nonetheless, we are continuing to seek out those worst-affected and to provide suitable relief”.