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South Asia Earthquake: Snow threatens relief effort

South Asia Earthquake: Snow threatens relief effort

May 10, 2010

With the first snows of the year falling on Kashmir, thousands of earthquake survivors could be cut off from help within weeks, warned international agency Oxfam. In the upper region of Kupwara, in Indian-administered Kashmir, snows were light but the temperature continued to drop. The winter season officially begins on October 15.

In Uri, on the Indian side of the line of control, Oxfam is distributing blankets and materials for temporary shelters. Already Oxfam distributed thousands of blankets and tents in the remote North West Frontier of Pakistan. Oxfam will be distributing tents, blankets and materials for temporary shelters in Abbottabad, a city in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Around one million people are thought to have been made homeless by the earthquake and many of them are sleeping in the open. The risk of pneumonia and hypothermia is real.

"Winter is coming on fast. Within three weeks thousands of people will have been cut off. We hope to have our own helicopter in the coming days to help us get aid to people in the most remote areas before the snows come," said Shaista Aziz, an Oxfam aid worker in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

"Because of landslides and earthquake damage, in some areas aid can only be taken in on the backs of mules. I’ve been part of a team distributing blankets and temporary shelter to people. This aid could make the difference between life and death," said Aditi Kapoor, an Oxfam aid worker in Uri, Indian-administered Kashmir.

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