10/04/2006, 00.00
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Tens of thousands of Pakistanis still in tents a year after quake

Aid delivery is fraught with difficulties because of the vastness of affected areas and the rugged terrain.

Lahore (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Tens of thousands of survivors of the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan are still living in tents as winter begins. The non-governmental organisation OXFAM said there were at least 40,000 people in refugee camps in Pakistani Kashmir and in the North West Province, the two regions hardest hit by last year's earthquake. The NGO thinks there could be another 66,000 people living in makeshift shelters in surrounding villages. "With snow already falling, this winter seems to have arrived early," Farhana Faruqi Stocker of Oxfam said. People need sustained access to heating and other essential items, along with materials to rebuild and strengthen their homes.

The British Red Cross is also working to give at least temporary accommodation to survivors. Together with the Red Crescent Society, the organisation is undertaking the construction of 13,500 homes. Many people affected by the earthquake have returned to their villages to rebuild their homes, but works are proceeding slowly due to the rugged terrain and the vast expanse of land affected by the disaster.

The earthquake, which measured 7.6 on the Richter scale, took place on 8 October 2005. It struck the northern regions of Pakistan – bordering India – and killed at least 75,000 people.

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