Oxfam flies team to Pakistan quake zone

By mborum

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OXFORD, UK — International agency Oxfam will fly a team of four aid experts to the southwestern Pakistani province of Baluchistan where a powerful earthquake hit the region on Wednesday. Leaving tomorrow from its base in Islamabad, the team will carry out an assessment and deliver an initial $78,000 aid package for those in need.

One of the Oxfam aid workers who will join the team is Khalid Gill who was in the nearby city of Quetta when the earthquake struck?first as a smaller tremor, followed by a larger one. ?The first one woke us up at 4:30. It was not all that big a tremor but we all quickly got out of the house and into the street. It only lasted a minute or so,? said Gill. ?After a while we went back into the house even though we knew that there might be an aftershock. Then at 5:15 there was a really big tremor. The house was shaking so much so that the door became jammed. We eventually got out of the house. It was really scary and bitterly cold. Everything was shaking for several minutes.?

Despite being in a sparsely populated area, an estimated 2,500 to 3,500 people are reported to be affected. Access to the area is difficult in normal circumstances: It sits at approximately 7,874 feet above sea level. There are reports of at least 130 people killed and hundreds of homes damaged or flattened. It is believed that there are still people trapped and these figures may rise. Many were injured due to the collapse of poorly built mud and stonewall houses.

The most affected district is Ziarat. Union Council Kawash and Vortune are the other two most affected areas.

An emergency has been declared in the provincial hospitals where scores of people are being treated.

Pakistan army contingents with two helicopters have reached the earthquake-hit areas and are taking part in rescue operations. Medical teams have also rushed to the affected areas.

In Quetta, Oxfam has already identified suppliers of soap, buckets, plastic sheets, kitchen sets and food?all of which are needed for the relief effort.

What you can do to help

To support the people of Pakistan, please consider making a contribution to Oxfam America?s Global Emergencies Fund.

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