[Press Release] Focus Humanitarian Assistance Provides Relief for Landslide Victims in Hunza, Pakistan

Attabad Village, Hunza Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, 13 January 2010Focus Humanitarian Assistance is providing relief to four villages in northern Pakistan that were struck by a devastating landslide on 4 January 2010.

According to initial disaster assessment reports, Attabad Payeen, Attabad Bala, Sarat and Ayeenabad were directly affected by the massive landslide in Hunza valley, which killed thirteen people and injured nine others. Six people are still reported missing. Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS), Pakistan’s voluntary Search and Rescue Team (SART), Disaster Assessment Response Team, Community Emergency Response Team and Village Emergency Response Teams were immediately mobilised to respond to the emergency.

The landslide has had devastating consequences. In the upper part of Hunza valley, a population of about 20,000 people has been cut off from the rest of Hunza region. “We are still trying to get to these people. Unfortunately if we don’t, soon, food and other supplies will run short. This is also winter time in the region, so families living without shelter and heating are even more vulnerable,” said Fozia Anwar, a female volunteer working with the SART team in Hunza valley.

Volunteers offloading medicines and relief goods received for Gojal. Photo: FOCUSVolunteers offloading medicines and relief goods received for Gojal. Other villages, Ahmadabad and Ayeenabad, have been evacuated given the threat of water build-up or dam breakage in the area. Wazir Baig, Speaker of the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly (GBLA) and Mutabiat Shah, Member, GBLA, along with officials from the National Disaster Management Authority are overseeing the response and relief efforts in Aliabad, Hunza, where relief items from all agencies are being collected. ThePakistan Army, local administration, volunteers, residents and trained FOCUS experts are continuing search and rescue efforts.

FOCUS Pakistan is also working closely with the Internally Displaced Persons camps in Hunza. Over 200 families have been registered in four school camps established in the Altit village. Seven trucks carrying relief goods including flour, rice, sugar, pulses, tea, fuel, kitchen utilities, blankets, pillows and other items have arrived in Aliabad. Bedding and immediate utility items were provided to over 170 families in the camps, while other relief items are being stored under the supervision of local administration, and will be issued on a needs-basis.

As part of its mandate, FOCUS Pakistan conducts regular geological surveys and hazard assessments of vulnerable areas across the country, particularly in the mountainous areas of northern Pakistan. According to a 2006 assessment of the affected area, there was a high risk of rapid movements and potential disaster in the region. The survey also projected debris fall resulting in the blockage of the Hunza River. According to the report, the eastern part of the village was the most vulnerable. “One block of the area had already been detached in a landslide in 1994. Since then, there was risk of another block falling off, since there were obvious cracks that were at least 100m in length,” said a FOCUS geologist who conducted the survey in 2006. The survey and hazard assessment report were shared with the Gilgit Baltistan government, due to which 25 households were evacuated from Attabad Bala and relocated to safer locations in March 2009.

For further information:
Nusrat Nasab
Deputy Executive Officer
Focus Humanitarian Assistance Pakistan
Telephone: +92-51 2294024; 2294051
Fax: +92-51 2294036
E-mail: nusrat.nasab@focushumanitarian.org  

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