Food program faces its toughest task ever in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The chief of the World Food Program appealed Saturday for urgent funds to keep helicopters flying to quake-ravaged areas through the winter, calling it the most difficult logistical task the U.N. agency has ever faced.

Fearing a second wave of deaths, soldiers and emergency workers have been racing to get food and shelter to survivors of the Oct. 8 quake that killed 87,000 people in Pakistan and India. Most of the deaths from the magnitude-7.6 temblor were in Kashmir, the Himalayan territory divided between the two countries, but claimed in entirety by both.

The World Food Program has accepted responsibility for feeding 1.3 million people, while 3 million are getting assistance from the government and 150,000 from the international Red Cross.

World Food Program director James Morris said the agency has enough money to keep making aid flights to remote areas through January, but needs another $70 million to fund the air operation until April 30.

Trucks, donkeys, horses and Himalayan trekkers also have been used to reach the most remote areas.

“We need substantial help, and the helicopters are critical, given the weather, the rugged terrain and our need to preposition a huge amount of food in places throughout the affected area before the weather gets terrible,” Morris said.

“The worse the conditions become on the ground, the more heavily we will rely on our helicopters. We have never had a crisis where the use of helicopters was so critical.”

Doctors struggling with the constant flow of patients in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan’s part of Kashmir that was hit hard by the quake, warned that the number of sick could swell now that the winter cold has set in.

Within the previous 24 hours alone, a total of 234 patients suffering from winter-related ailments had been admitted to the state-run Abbas Institute of Medical Science hospital, medical superintendent Bashir Rahman said.

“The situation now is under control, but in the coming days it could get worse, especially for people living at high altitude,” he said.

Pakistani soldiers are building 5,000 shelters a day. Aid workers say most of the hundreds of thousands of tents that have been distributed won’t protect quake survivors from the cold, and that corrugated iron shelters are needed.

The army has constructed about 30,000 such shelters.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Chap Grubb, founder and CEO of second-hand outdoor gear store Rerouted, stands inside his new storefront on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Gold Bar, Washington. Rerouted began as an entirely online shop that connected buyers and sellers of used gear.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Used outdoor gear shop Rerouted finds a niche in Gold Bar

Seeking to keep good outdoor gear out of landfills, an online reselling business has put down roots in Gold Bar.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Everett man sentenced to 6 years for cyberstalking ex-wife

Christopher Crawford, 42, was found guilty of sending intimate photos of his ex-wife to adult websites and to colleagues in the Navy.

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers speaks to the crowd during an opening ceremony at the new PAE2 Amazon Fulfillment Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County executive pitches $1.66B budget

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers announced his proposed budget Tuesday afternoon. Public comment is slated to begin Oct. 10.

Lars Kundu wipes away tears during his sentencing Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
5 years after fatal hit and run, Lake Stevens man sentenced to prison

Lars Kundu, 28, pleaded guilty in May for the 2018 death of Chad Keeler. He was handed more than 6 years in prison Thursday.

Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

Most Read