Red Cross: Millions needed for Pakistan quake aid

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The Red Cross appealed Sunday for $7.8 million in emergency funds to help victims of an earthquake in southwest Pakistan, saying the priority is to provide shelter to the homeless as winter sets in.

The 6.4-magnitude quake hit a poverty-stricken region near the Afghan border before dawn Wednesday, leaving thousands homeless. The official death toll is 215 but likely to rise to more than 300, officials said.

Relief workers were still discovering mountain villages wrecked by the temblor that have yet to receive aid, the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement.

It estimated some 20,000 to 30,000 people were affected. The U.N. has put the figure at more than 100,000, half of them children.

Worst-hit was Ziarat district, which has about 50,000 residents, the ICRC said.

Authorities and the army are transporting tents, sleeping bags and food packages to villagers in the affected valleys of Baluchistan province. Many tents need to be insulated or fitted with stoves as the weather cools, officials said.

The Red Cross and authorities were also mustering supplies of antibiotics for the few clinics in the region to combat a wave of chest infections among children.

UNICEF said it was trucking water supplies to Ziarat town in a bid to prevent an outbreak of cholera and diarrhea in young children. It appealed for $5 million from donors.

On Friday, the United States said it would provide an initial $1 million in assistance. China, Germany and other countries have also offered financial help.

AP

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