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Winter could cut off thousands of survivors

Thursday 13 October, 2005

As first snow falls, Oxfam warns winter could cut off thousands of earthquake survivors from help

The first snows of winter fell in areas of Kashmir last night raising the prospect that thousands could be cut off from help within weeks.

Last night it snowed for the first time this season in the upper region of Kupwara, in Indian administered Kashmir. The snows were light but the temperature continues to drop and the official winter season begins in just two days time (15th).

Oxfam is racing aid to the region. In Uri, on the Indian side of the line of control, Oxfam is distributing blankets and materials for temporary shelters to people today. Yesterday Oxfam also distributed thousands of blankets and tents in the remote North West Frontier of Pakistan. Toda, Oxfam will be distributing tents, blankets and materials for temporary shelters in Abbottabad, a city in Pakistan administered Kashmir.

There are thought to be around one million people who have been made homeless by the earthquake and many of them are sleeping in the open. There is a real risk of people falling victim to pneumonia and hypothermia unless they get shelter.

"The winter is coming and fast. Within three weeks thousands of people will have been cut off. We hope to have our own helicopter in the coming days to help us get aid to people in the most remote areas before the snows come," said Shaista Aziz, an Oxfam aid worker in Pakistan administered Kashmir.

"Because of landslides and earthquake damage, in some areas aid can only taken in on the backs of mules. I've been part of a team distributing blankets and temporary shelter to people today, this is aid that could be the difference between life and death," said Aditi Kapoor, an Oxfam aid worker in Uri, Indian administered Kashmir.

Oxfam's first aid flight landed yesterdday in Islamabad carrying tents which will provide shelter for thousands. Oxfam's next flight was being loaded last night and will be leaving from the UK today.
Oxfam are not looking for donations of materials. Cash donations are the best way to ensue we get help to people quickly.

- People can donate to the appeal now on the website www.oxfam.org.nz
- The public can also give by phone on 0800 400 666.

ENDS

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