Pakistan rushes pneumonia vaccine to quake zone ahead of snowfall


Islamabad (dpa) – Pakistani authorities were on Friday rushing medics and vaccines to north-western valleys hit by a major earthquake this week as thousands of survivors including children face the harsh Himalayan winter under open skies, officials said.

“Our medical teams are reaching people with pneumonia vaccine,” said Ahmed Kamal, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Authority in the capital Islamabad.

A 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck the South Asian region on Monday, jolting a vast area from Tajikistan to India and killing over 400 people, mostly in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The tremor destroyed around 25,000 houses in Pakistan alone, leaving hundreds of thousands of people to face the approaching winter in the rugged mountains without shelter.

The National Disaster Management Authority has provided tents to victims but local people complained they are hardly enough to cope with near-freezing temperatures.

Theh Pakistan Meteorological Department has predicted snowfall in the quake-hit areas from Sunday.

“It may continue for a couple of days and the temperature can drop below 0 degrees Celsius,” said Muhammad Hanif, a meteorological officer in Islamabad.

The snowfall would expose thousands of children to diseases like pneumonia, Kamal said, adding the National Disaster Management Authority was taking pre-emptive measures.

Medical teams from the authority and other Islamic charities working in the area were also taking care of pregnant women but face a shortage of trained gynecologists, Kamal said.