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Earthquake :: Updates from Balakot

From: Farooq Umar
Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2005 2:40 PM
To: BS99
Subject: [imp] Earthquake: From Balakot

We went up as far as Balakot yesterday with some good trucks. Some facts so that everyone can make sound decisions:

1. The road upto Balakot and beyond is completely clear. There is no damage up until Shinkiari. Abbottabad has some fallen buildings but nothing substantial. Shinkiari and beyond things get bad, but access is very easy and possible.

2. There is a huge traffic jam now, perpetual and unending, most of it caused by cars accompanying trucks who just want to see. Better to ride in the trucks in case someone wants to go personally.

3. There is tremendous chaos and ill-discipline. No PROJECT OFFICE where all relief organizations can come together and establish a pattern of operation. I think 60% of their time is being spent running about doing nothing.

4. The only two organizations working in a disciplined manner with regard to delivery of goods and establishing services are the Army and Edhi. Their camps are organized, their delivery is substantial and the process seems to be running smoothly. We delivered half the stuff to Edhi and the other half to the Army Camp just short of Shinkiari. Subsequently, one of the trucks was taken directly to a village called "Ouggi" which had received very few supplies.

5. There is no need anymore for food. In fact, it is not wise to send uncooked items since there is no means for cooking. What is required now are tents and kafans as first priority, and blankets and epidemic controlling drugs as second priority.

6. Of course, the shortfall is happening seriously in terms of machinery to pull ppl out of the debris. International teams have been very effective, Pakistani teams utterly non-existent except for whatever the Army could pull together in terms of machinery.

7. The first emergency medical camp we saw was in Abbottabad, at Ayub Medical College. It was full of injured and dead. Also quite chaotic but somewhat more organized than the one in Mansehra.

8. The camp in Mansehra needs a PMO! There is all sort of political manouvreing going on to get goods and supplies to specific spots thru specific groups. I saw many politicians there - wont name them! - who were shaking hands and just generally checking up alongw/ their individual camera crews. For the 3 hours that we were there trying to find out who would take custody of our goods, we saw no progress other than doctors who were exhausted with looking after an unending line of injured. I saw more dishonest activity going on than I did serious work other than by the doctors. There were rooms full of medical supplies but they were all
getting wet and dirty due to the rain and hailstorm. I didnt see anyone make an effort to move them to safer, closed structures.

9. In terms of communication etc., cellular service is working all the way to the top, i.e till Sinkiari, in patches ofcourse. Whatever communication network you intend to set up, make sure you put ONE TEAM INCHARGE, to organize it. I would advise do it in collaboration with either Edhi or the Army. There isnt any other organization there that I felt was equipped to handle any substantial cross-town, across-territory work.

Published Thursday, October 13, 2005 4:34 PM by khurram
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