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WFP battles bad weather to get food to quake survivors

WFP battles logistical constraints and poor weather conditions to get food aid to survivors of the earthquake in Pakistan, using helicopters, trucks and one boat.

Situation update

  • WFP is concerned that aid efforts are being hampered by major difficulties due to logistical constraints and weather conditions in Pakistan, where a major earthquake killed nearly 40,000 people last week (latest government figures 16 October), leaving about one million people in need of food and shelter.
  • WFP is using helicopters, trucks and one boat to move food assistance to accessible parts of Kashmir and the North West Frontier Province, where the earthquake destroyed hundreds of villages and schools together with a good part of the road infrastructure.
  • Apart from the damage to roads, access is further complicated by the sheer weight of traffic on those that remain open, causing jams and tailbacks several kilometres long.
  • In addition, poor weather has hampered air logistics. Today two WFP Mi-8 helicopters, which had just arrived, were grounded in Lahore due to bad weather. Heavy rains are battering some areas while snow has started falling in a number of others. Temperatures went as low as -3 Celsius last night in some mountainous areas. An Army helicopter (MI-17) crashed during a relief operation due to bad weather and very low visibility. Landslides have closed some roads.
  • Shelter materials - tents and blankets - are an urgent priority, in addition to food and water.
  • The hope that search and rescue teams would save more people alive from under the rubble is diminishing and focus is gradually shifting to the complex task of providing the basic needs of the survivors as temperatures keep on falling and the need for medical care of the injured, shelter, food, water and medicines increase.
  • The main areas affected are all areas of Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Mansehra, Abbottabad, Battagram, Kohistan and Shangla districts of North West Frontier Province. Some of the current earthquake-affected districts are amongst the most chronically food insecure in Pakistan and have also experienced heavy floods in recent months.

WFP intervention

  • Today, Sunday, eight WFP trucks with 100 tons of mixed commodities (wheat flour, pulses, dates, and high-energy biscuits) arrived in Muzaffarabad, the capital city of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
  • In addition, today an Il-76, paid for by the Italian Government's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, delivered to Islamabad from Brindisi, Italy medical supplies for the World Health Organisation and 9.5 metric tons of high-energy biscuits for WFP. This is a continuation of the WFP airbridge launched from Italy when the crisis arose.
  • Thus far, WFP has provided enough food for nearly 220,000 people for two to three days.
  • WFP plans to bring in at least 12 helicopters to help with moving aid supplies and assessment missions. Another eight will arrive and be operational within the coming few days.
  • A fleet of trucks to help deliver food aid are on their way, with 40 having left Kabul, Afghanistan yesterday.
  • WFP has launched a six-month operation costing about US$54 million for food aid, to assist nearly one million Pakistanis who lost most of their belongings and food stocks in the aftermath of the quake.