South Asia Flash Appeal 2005 - Earthquake

11 October 2005

A 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck south Asia on the morning of October 8, devastating parts of northern Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. The epicentre of the earthquake was located 95 kilometres northeast of the Pakistan capital Islamabad. The earthquake immediately destroyed many buildings, and strong aftershocks threatened buildings already damaged by the initial earthquake. 

In areas of the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir and Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), many villages were almost wiped out.  Unverified reports from the region describe 80-90% destruction in the cities and villages in northern Pakistan and in the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir, particularly Muzaffarabad and Mansehra, towns with populations of over 200,000. The region, home to a population of 4 million, has suffered extensive damage. One million people are in acute need of assistance.

Casualty figures are difficult to predict and vary greatly. On the second day, officials stated 18,000 casualties, whereas on the third day, other officials were quoting over 30,000 dead. Neither figure can be confirmed, but higher figures are to be expected as rescue and recovery operations continue.  In several parts of Pakistan, schools were in session when the earthquake struck, and many schools collapsed, trapping students inside. The type of stone- and mud-sided construction leaves little hope for survivors inside buildings. Many public-sector workers were among the victims, hampering the ability to rebuild.

There are enormous logistical difficulties in the region: landslides have cut off many roads, allowing access only by foot or helicopter.  Slowly, roads to the most affected areas are being opened, but remote areas can only be reached by limited air resources.

Due to strong and frequent aftershocks, survivors are afraid to go back inside buildings that have been damaged by the earthquake.  Many are sleeping in fields.  There is an urgent need for tents to house these people, especially winterised tents in the northern areas as the temperatures are beginning to drop.   Medical care is also in critical need as most of the hospitals in the affected areas have been destroyed.  Food and water are also in short supply.

Based on reports from the nine cluster groups, the total amount of money needed in this initial appeal is US$ 311,876,000 for actions up to six months.

Given that the disaster occurred 72 hours ago and access is still impossible to many of the areas struck by the earthquake, the projects outlined in this initial flash appeal focus on life-saving issues. The projects are to be adjusted and expanded to include more focus on recovery in the near future as soon as more precise information is available.

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11 October 2005

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