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Oct-07-2008 14:37printcomments

Limited Access Hampers Efforts to Assess Impact of Earthquake in Kyrgyzstan

The worst-affected areas were located in Chon-Alai and Alai, 220 kilometres from the main city of Osh, which had already been struck by an earthquake in January.


Courtesy: United Nations

(Osh, Kyrgyzstan) - United Nations humanitarian agencies are dispatching aid and staff to southern Kyrgyzstan, where dozens of people have been killed and hundreds of homes destroyed after an earthquake struck the remote, mountainous region.

it is reported that at least 60 people died when the quake, which measured 6.6 on the Richter scale and was recorded as being about 27 kilometres below the surface, struck close to Nura, a village near the Kyrgyz border with China.

Limited access and communication are making it difficult to assess the full impact of the deadly earthquake that struck this section of southern Kyrgyzstan on Sunday, according to United Nations relief officials.

Elisabeth Byrs of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told reporters in Geneva that there was currently very little information on the impact of the earthquake – which measured 6.6 on the Richter scale – due to difficulties in accessing the affected region, which has about 100,000 people located in 80 villages.

She said the only data available was for Nura, a village near the Kyrgyz border with China, where 70 per cent of the entire infrastructure had been completely destroyed and 60 people had been killed, while another 60 needed urgent evacuation and medical aid.

The worst-affected areas were located in Chon-Alai and Alai, 220 kilometres from the main city of Osh, which had already been struck by an earthquake in January.

Ms. Byrs said Kyrgyz officials have set up an on-site operation centre and dispatched search and rescue workers to the affected areas, in addition to setting up a tent camp for 600 displaced families.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today said he was saddened by the loss of life, injuries and damage to property following the earthquake, and sent his condolences to those who have lost their loved ones.

“The United Nations stands ready to support authorities in Kyrgyzstan in their efforts to respond to the tragedy,” according to a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), for its part, has dispatched a first consignment of 400 mattresses and 1,500 blankets from its warehouse in Osh. It had also provided an inter-agency assessment team, dispatched from Osh into the affected areas, with urgently needed communications equipment.

“As more information from the disaster area is being received, we and our partners continue to assess humanitarian needs and how our emergency stocks in Osh could be used to relieve the victims of the earthquake,” UNHCR’s Ron Redmond said.




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