Resident gather around the rubble of a collapsed house after an earthquake in Ziarat, one of the main tourist spots in Baluchistan, October 29, 2008. REUTERS/ Saeed Ali Achakzai, courtesy www.alertnet.org.
Thousands urgently need shelter and blankets due to cold weather at altitude.

Pakistan earthquake: Oxfam flies team to quake zone

Published: 29 October 2008

Oxfam will fly a team of four aid experts into the quake zone tomorrow from its base in Islamabad. The team will carry out an assessment and deliver an initial $81,000 aid package for those in need.

One of the Oxfam aid workers who will join the team is Khalid Gill who was in nearby city of Quetta when earthquake struck: "The earthquake struck twice. 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. 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,” said Gill.

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 and lies at approximately 2,400 meters. Traditionally people migrate to the lower ground during the winter period. Had the earthquake hit in summer there would have been much higher casualties.

There are reports of at least 130 people killed and 300 to 500 homes damaged, however it is believed that there are still people trapped and these figures may rise. Many were injured due to collapse of poorly built mud and stonewall houses.

The most affected district is Ziarat. There are reports that Ziarat city is flattened. 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 been rushed to the affected areas.

Oxfam has already identified suppliers from Quetta of items such as soap, buckets, plastic sheets, kitchen sets and food.