10/18/2005, 00.00
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Earthquake in Pakistan: more than 1 million people lost their jobs

The ILO says that the earthquake leaved more than 2 million people into extreme poverty. At least 60 hardened criminals escaped during the wave.

Lahore (AsiaNews/Agencies) - More than 1 million people may have lost their jobs in Pakistan as a result of the devastating earthquake there, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) says.

The ILO says the October 8 disaster has compounded the grinding poverty that was already the daily lot of many people in Pakistani Kashmir and North-West Frontier province. It says prior to the earthquake, each employed person in the region also supported at least two additional dependants, leaving more than 2 million affected by the economic impact of the disaster.

The UN labour agency notes that an initial assessment conducted in the wake of the earthquake shows it had destroyed most infrastructure and shops in affected towns in the region. The earthquake has also caused heavy loss of livestock and agricultural implements, which are the mainstay in many rural areas.

The ILO says the hardest hit areas are among the poorest in Pakistan, with millions of people living on less than a day even before the disaster. "By losing their employment, even for a short period of time, workers in the affected districts have likely already fallen into extreme poverty," ILO chief Juan Somavia said.

The earthquake made possible another problem of Pakistani society. Dozens of hardened criminals awaiting execution escaped during the wave. Officials say at least 15 prisoners were killed and around 40 injured, but more than half the estimated 120 inmates in Muzaffarabad Central Jail used the earthquake as an opportunity to escape. They were living in the only building survived of the 4 that were the death row.

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