First consignment of aid dispatched to quake victims

An earthquake that jolted southern Kyrgyzstan on the evening of 5 October killed at least 70 people and destroyed over 100 houses in a remote village, according to officials. An initial aid delivery has been dispatched.

Kanat Abdurakhmatov, head of the Kyrgyz Seismology Institute, told IRIN in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, the epicentre “was located in a mountainous and unpopulated part of Tajikistan… But the main impact of the disaster was in the adjacent Alai District of Kyrgyzstan,” Abdurahmatov said.

The US Geological Survey website reported the magnitude of the earthquake as 6.6 on the Richter Scale.

The Kyrgyz Ministry of Emergencies said the village of Nura in Alai District was the worst affected: “Based on our preliminary assessments 70 people were killed and 60 need urgent evacuation for medical treatment in Nura village alone,” Turatbek Junushaliev, Kyrgyz deputy emergencies’ minister, told IRIN.

He said 128 houses and 70 percent of the village’s infrastructure had been completely destroyed. “There is no electricity or water there. In some places the road leading to the village has been destroyed,” Junushaliev said.

Nura village is near the Kyrgyz-Chinese border. Its 940 inhabitants lived in 211 houses, the ministry said, adding that over half the residential buildings were destroyed by the quake.

Aid efforts

The Ministry of Emergencies held an urgent meeting of REACT group members, comprising donor bodies and local and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Bishkek on 6 October to provide them with the latest information.

It requested urgent and mid-term assistance from international organisations and donors to mitigate the consequences of the disaster: “We need generators, food items, warm clothing, blankets and personal hygiene kits,” Junushaliev said.

Night-time temperatures in the area in autumn and winter drop up to minus 25 degrees Centigrade, Ministry of Emergencies’ experts said.

Tents, tarpaulins and other items are required to set up a temporary camp for 600 families as an immediate measure, and construction materials are needed to build new homes for survivors who have been made homeless by the disaster.

Neal Walker, the UN resident coordinator, said UN agencies in Kyrgyzstan, along with the Kyrgyz Red Crescent, and the ACTED Kyrgyzstan NGO had sent their teams, in cooperation with the ministry, to the affected area to conduct a needs assessment.

“We can mobilise the UN warehouse in Osh [city near Uzbek border] where our partners - the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) - have supplies to provide relief aid to earthquake-affected people,” Walker said.

Roza Shaiakhmetova, general secretary of the Kyrgyz Red Crescent Society, said they had sent initial aid immediately after they received information about the disaster. “We sent with the Emergencies Ministry convoy 30 tents, heaters, winter jackets for adults and children and drinking water supplies,” Shaiakhmetova said.

“We’ve appealed to our sister agencies requesting humanitarian aid assistance for the affected,” she added.

The Russian government has also promised humanitarian aid.

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