Quake survivors in Pakistan-administered Kashmir woke up with relief Thursday as bright sunlight entered their tents and damaged homes, where they spent three nights enduring rain, snow and subfreezing temperatures. Helicopter relief flights resumed in full swing in Kashmir and elsewhere, although forecasters said weather was still cloudy in some quake-hit areas. Pakistan's military said Thursday its engineers had cleared many roads blocked by snow and landslides to enable aid workers to get help to survivors.
An estimated 87,000 people were killed and 3.5 million left homeless when the 7.6-magnitde monster quake struck South Asia on Oct. 8. Since then, aid workers have been distributing tents, food and clothes, and treating ailments at field hospitals.
Hundreds of people, mostly children, have been treated for cold-related illnesses since rain and snow lashed this region this week. According to World Health Organization, at least five people died this week of cold-related diseases.
Sardar Mahmood, the top health official in Muzaffarabad, said the number of patients with such illnesses had increased after the three days of snow and rain, but insisted the situation was not alarming. "Between 40 to 45 percent of the survivors (are coming) to hospitals with cold ailments, but according to my information none of them are listed in critical condition," said Mahmood. He could not provide further details.
Residents in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, say winter was three weeks late this year. "Normally, we see this weather in the first week of December, but this time snow began late," said Gul Andaz Abbasi, 39, as he stood outside a camp with his three children.
He said weather in Kashmir is unpredictable. "It changes suddenly, but we are happy to see a sunny day," he said. Raja Fayyaz, 23, who also lives with his seven family members in a donated camp on the outskirts of Muzaffarabad said they had endured severe cold, reports the AP. I.L.
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