Pakistan quake toll could double, UN officials

U.N. emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland has warned that the death toll from the South Asia quake that hit Pakistan and India this month could double. The United Nations yesterday warned of a second, massive wave of deaths unless more is done to help the estimated 3 million people with no blankets nor tents to protect them from the Himalayan winter.

See photoreport of the disaster

Mr Egeland says a response on the scale of this year's tsunami relief operation in South-East Asia is needed.

"The tsunami was devastating. It killed more people than any other disaster in modern time," he said.

"In the Kashmir [region] we have more people inaccessible than we even had in the tsunami and we also have more people wounded than we have in the tsunami.

"Those two factors mean that we are losing more lives as the days and the weeks go by."

Mr Egeland castigated governments for being slow to give money and called on the NATO alliance to set up a "Berlin Airlift" to save people in the rugged hills of Pakistani Kashmir and North West Frontier Province.

Donor countries have pledged only $86 million so far to a UN appeal for $312 million, according to the UN official.

He says hundreds of thousands of people remain beyond reach, reports ABC.

Pakistan says nearly 50,000 people died in areas under its control.

Local officials put casualties far higher, and the number is expected to rise. At least 1,400 others died in Indian-administered Kashmir, officials say.

An estimated three million people remain homeless or without safe shelter.

Mr Egeland said an airlift was needed on the scale of the Berlin blockade of the 1940s, when Allies flew in supplies to the divided city in communist eastern Europe.

He said aid had to be sent in and tens of thousands of homeless and injured people flown out of remote regions before winter set in - or tens of thousands more lives could be lost.

"I have asked Nato and I will reiterate that appeal: think bold, think big, think creatively," he said ahead of Friday's meeting in Brussels.

"I don't know how you evacuate hundreds of thousands of people from the Himalayas, but the most effective military alliance in the world should be able to," informs BBC.


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