Experts say damage cost from Pakistan's earthquake totals US$5 billion

International lenders estimate damages and reconstruction costs from Pakistan's deadly earthquake will total almost US$5 billion (Ђ4.25 billion), newspaper reports said Friday, as doctors struggled to contain disease outbreaks and rain compounded the misery of thousands of homeless. Direct damages and indirect economic losses from the Oct. 8 quake total more than US$2.3 billion (Ђ2 billion), The News said, citing a report by the Asian Development Bank and World Bank.

It said reconstruction costs will add up to US$2.65 billion (Ђ2.25 billion), about half of what Pakistan's government had been estimating last month.

The report, which the paper said was completed on Nov. 5, will serve as a benchmark for giving at a conference of international donors to be held in Pakistan's capital Islamabad on Nov. 19. The banks declined to provide copies of the report on Thursday and spokesmen were not immediately available for comment.

However, the ADB said in a news release that its director general for South Asia, Kunio Senga, had assured Pakistani economic officials during a visit earlier this week that the bank was "committed to support Pakistan in its earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation effort."

The magnitude 7.6 quake centered in Kashmir killed about 86,000 people in Pakistani territory and another 1,350 in India, destroying bridges, roads, and the homes of more than 3 million people, along with hospitals, government offices and more than 10,000 schools.

However, monetary costs of the quake appeared limited because the region's economy is largely based on agriculture and there was little impact on industry or trade. Infrastructure in the region was basic and most homes were simple stone farmhouses built of locally sourced materials.

The cost estimates come amid growing alarm over shortfalls in donations for quake victims, a stark contrast to the outpouring of aid to those affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina in the United States, the AP reports.

The United Nations says it needs US$550 million (Ђ467.6 million) in emergency aid for quake victims, but donors have pledged only $131 million (Ђ111.4 million). By comparison, a total of $13.5 billion (Ђ11.5 billion) was pledged to victims of Asia's Dec. 26 tsunami.

A month after quake victims started moving to tent villages, poor sanitation and overcrowding have sparked fears of infectious diseases, prompting UNICEF to launch a two-week campaign starting Saturday to immunize 800,000 children up to age 15 in the quake zone.


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