Earthquakes measuring more than 6 points on the Richter Magnitude Scale and dozens of severe aftershocks rocked Balochistan Province in southwestern Pakistan October 29. Estimates of the number killed range from 200 to 500, with another 500 reported injured and more than 100,000 now homeless.
U.S. Consul General Kay Anske visited the earthquake-devastated Ziarat District on November 3rd. She was briefed by Pakistani officials about relief efforts. In the hard-hit village of Wam, she met with earthquake survivors, including women and children, in tents provided for them by relief agencies.
Plastic sheeting, which can be used to water and windproof tents, or as a critical component of transitional shelters, has been flown into affected areas to help those with inadequate shelter who are now facing sub-zero temperatures. Thus far, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided $2,500,000 to international and nongovernmental partners working in the earthquake-affected districts. In some remote locations, the earthquakes triggered landslides, which further complicated delivery of relief supplies.
Trucks carrying plastic sheeting first began arriving in the provincial capital of Quetta November 3rd. USAID airlifted additional sheeting to Quetta on November 6th. The sheeting has since been distributed by Save the Children, Relief International, and their local partners to the most heavily stricken villages in the district of Ziarat, which is 60 kilometers north of Quetta.
In addition to providing funding and in-kind assistance to meet immediate needs, USAID also deployed a 4-member Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to Pakistan. The USAID DART conducted an assessment of the earthquake-affected province, where the immediate damage included the collapse of nearly 3,500 mud and timber houses.
The USAID assistance, including $1,000,000 through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), $100,000 through Save the Children for the local purchase of plastic sheeting, and approximately $260,000 in plastic sheeting consigned to Relief International, has provided immediate relief for affected families.
ICRC is providing emergency assistance, including emergency health care, shelter, relief commodities, and water and sanitation interventions, for earthquake affected populations.
Since 2002, the U.S. government has provided more than $3.4 billion dollars to Pakistan to improve economic growth, education, health, and governance, and to assist with earthquake reconstruction.
The U.S. will continue to work with the government of Pakistan and the international community to assist those affected by the recent disaster.