Pakistan army builds 30,000 shelters for people who lost their homes

Aid officials warned Friday that almost all of the hundreds of thousands of tents they distributed to survivors of Pakistan's massive earthquake last month aren't adequate for the harsh winter, while Pakistan announced soldiers have built 30,000 shelters for the 3.5 million people who lost their homes. Using corrugated iron sheets, the army is constructing about 5,000 shelters for quake survivors each day, the military said in a statement, while thousands in northwest Pakistan and Pakistan's portion of Kashmir have built shelters with the assistance of aid agencies, soldiers and volunteers.

Still, aid agencies are warning that a lack of food and shelter, combined with increasingly harsh winter conditions, could cause a second wave of deaths for victims of the Oct. 8 earthquake. In Islamabad, an aid official warned Friday that 90 percent of the 420,000 tents distributed to survivors of Pakistan's massive earthquake are not "winterized" and are not by themselves adequate for the freezing Himalayan weather that is already rolling into the area.

Darren Boisvert, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, said that relief efforts have focused on the people in the highest mountain villages, rather than the hundreds of thousands living in non-winterized tents in refugee camps lower down. He said 5,000 tents that are adequate for winter have been distributed to those above the snow line, and another 5,000 will be distributed by Dec. 12.

At least eight people are known to have died from cold-related ailments such as pneumonia since the onset of the brutal Himalayan winter, and hundreds stream into hospitals every day. Doctors say the situation could worsen in the coming weeks if arrangements are not made quickly to provide adequate shelters for the estimated 3.5 million people who lost their homes in the 7.6-magnitude quake. On Thursday, a moderate aftershock was felt in northwestern Pakistan, Islamabad and some areas of Kashmir, according to Pakistan's meteorological department. The weather was also deteriorating rapidly. Strong winds and subfreezing temperatures were forecast again for Friday. The cold was expected to get particularly harsh in the higher mountain villages. Some roads have been closed and others declared unsafe. Rain and snow have also hampered aid operations, reports the AP. N.U.

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