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Foreign rescuers deployed in quake-hit parts

Foreign rescuers deployed in different quake-hit parts: Shaukat Sultan

Director General ISPR Major general Shaukat Sultan on Monday said that a number of foreign rescue teams have been been despatched to different quake-hit areas. During a media birefing he said the teams from friendly countries would be carrying out relief and rescue operations. He said a team from France was carrying necessary equipment and a field hospital has been deployed in Rawlakot. Another team from Spain carrying a mobile hospital of 240 beds has been deployed in Bagh.

Teams from Turkey, Germany, and UK carrying mobile hospitals have been despatched to Muzaffarabad. Teams of Rescuers from UAE, Jordan, China, and Japan along with sniffer dogs have been deployed in Balaokot, Mansehra and Batgram. He said that the rescue and relief operations were being carried out at a fast pace. Answering a question, he said efforts were being made to evaluate the devastation with the help of satellite images from the quake-battered parts.

Diplomats briefed about disaster, relief measures and requirements

The Diplomatic Corps based in Islamabad was briefed Monday about the extensive damage caused by the massive earthquake and the relief operations being carried out by the government. The briefing was attended by the envoys and representatives of all the Embassies, International Organizations and the International Financial Institutions. Ministers of State for Foreign Affairs Khusro Bakhtyar and for Economic Affairs Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar and Foreign Secretary Riaz M. Khan apprised them of the gravity of the situation, the massive destruction and loss of precious loss lives in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and parts of NWFP.

Khusro Bakhtyar said hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and the immediate focus was to provide urgent assistance to the affectees in shape of medical aid, essential food supplies, clothing and shelter. Foreign Secretary, Riaz M. Khan gave a comprehensive presentation on the magnitude of the disaster, the currently known loss of life and the number of injured. He said from 50 to 70 % of houses and buildings had collapsed in Abbottabad, Mansehra, Batgram, Muzaffarabad, Rawlakot and Bagh, apart from those in the far flung localities. He said road links had been severely damaged and disrupted which necessitated that major relief assistance only be sent by helicopters which were also being used for ferrying back the injured on their return flights.

He said major infrastructure damage had affected the hospitals, communication facilities and Government offices. The Foreign Secretary said the immediate focus was on providing shelter, food and medical assistance to the earthquake victims, at the earliest possible, particularly as winter was setting in the northern areas. The Foreign Secretary conveyed appreciation of the government and the people of Pakistan for the overwhelming and prompt response and support of the international community, besides the entire UN system, the ICRC, NGOs and the International Financial Institutions. A number of countries had sent search and rescue teams, while more were arriving.

He said the priority was to set up field hospitals and pointed that a number of countries were sending self-contained field hospitals. The Government intended to cluster these foreign field hospitals, along with the national field hospitals, in locations next to already existing medical facilities. He said the immediate relief requirements were; * Shelter - Tents and plastic sheets, blankets, mattresses. * Food Items - Pre-cooked tinned food (Halal), high energy biscuits, survival rations. * Medicines - Antibiotics, typhoid medication, fracture-related kits, first aid kits, surgical instruments, water purification tablets. * Equipment - Electricity generators, water purification kits/small plants, disinfectant sprays.

He said the government had also set up Emergency Coordination Cells in the Prime Minister's Secretariat, Cabinet and Interior Divisions and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which were working round the clock and were closely linked. He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Emergency Coordination Cell (ECC) headed by Additional Secretary (UN&EC) Tariq Osman Hyder can be contacted for any information or assistance at any time. The Foreign Secretary said the next step of the relief effort would be to rehabilitate the affected population and reconstruct the infrastructure. Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar briefed the participants on the long-term reconstruction needs.

She said the government was carrying out a comprehensive assessment which would then be shared with all countries and donor agencies for their information and assistance in working together towards a coordinated and effective response to address the challenge. Khusro Bakhtyar reiterated Pakistan's appreciation of the generous response and relief assistance made available to Pakistan at a short notice by the international community.

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