Warning over plight of Pakistan quake victims

Irish people must donate money now before time runs out for earthquake victims in Pakistan, an Irish aid worker claimed today.

Irish people must donate money now before time runs out for earthquake victims in Pakistan, an Irish aid worker claimed today.

Four days after the disaster, monsoon rains and rough terrain are halting blankets and food reaching thousands of people made homeless.

Concern’s accountant in Pakistan, James Kiernan said tonight: “These people are crying out for food and shelter but we need the money to buy it.

“A man can only last three days without food or water so it’s a race against time to rescue victims.”

The Longford man, 31 told the Press Association he is stunned by the scale of the 7.6 Richter Scale quake – the biggest in Pakistan’s history.

“Buildings are flattened to rubble and roads and bridges have buckled,” he said via satellite phone.

“Farmers have seen their crops destroyed and their animals killed. It’s unreal.”

Winter weather conditions in the Himalayan foothills has grounded convoys of aid trucks in some regions.

“It drops to minus-seven degrees at night and we’re heading into the coldest time of the year in the Himalayas,” said James from Abbeylara.

Concern, which has a relief team of 60 volunteers in Pakistan, wires funds to the Standard Chartered Bank in Islamabad which James withdraws to buy aid.

The food items he buys include rice, high-energy biscuits, wheat, flour, cooking oil, salt and sugar.

Heavy-duty tents, water filters and medicines are also being distributed.

He said: “Money is coming in but we still need more to source aid.”

The official toll from Saturday’s quake remains at 23,000 dead and 51,000 injured but local officials believe 40,000 lives may be already lost.

Medical staff are now worried about the risk of cholera and pneumonia and malaria.

James was an accountant based in Dublin but joined Concern earlier this year after doing voluntary work in a city centre hostel.

When he arrived in Islamabad on Monday he had to dodge aftershocks some of which reached 6.3 on the Richter Scale.

“We had to run outside into open spaces where it was safer. Some buildings just collapsed like a deck of cards.”

The UN World Health Organisation has deployed 60 staff in Pakistan and is providing enough medicines and supplies for 210,000 people for a month.

The World Food Program today flew in a five-day supply of high-energy biscuits for 240,000 people and said relief workers were prepared to feed one million people for one month.

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