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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Pakistan quake victims burn tyres at angry protests
by Staff Writers
Mashkail, Pakistan (AFP) April 19, 2013


Pakistani earthquake victims burnt tyres at angry protests on Friday, accusing the government of failing to provide adequate relief three days after their homes were destroyed or damaged.

Tuesday's 7.8-magnitude quake, centred in southeastern Iran, killed 41 people -- all but one of whom were in Pakistan, where thousands more have been affected.

One of the worst-hit areas is Mashkail, a remote community in Pakistan's southwestern province Baluchistan, where the lack of paved roads, phone coverage, immense distances and medical facilities have hampered the rescue effort.

Several hundred protesters chanted slogans against the federal and provincial governments, set fire to tyres and blocked the road to vent their resentment in Mashkail, an AFP reporter said.

They demanded shelter and the restoration of electricity after poles in some areas were destroyed by the earthquake.

"No one has received any relief item. The FC (Frontier Corps paramilitary) have distributed 20 tents which they gave only to influential people," protester Ali Ahmad told AFP.

Others said that children were sick.

"Our children are having diarrhoea. When we took them to the health facility there is a shortage of medicine," said another man.

Homeless families are camping out under date trees without tents or plastic sheets, although food and water is available in shops that remain open, coming from across the border with Iran.

"If this earthquake had struck some other area, all the government machinery would have gone. Here only two government officials came but delivered nothing," Mohammd Khalil, a driver, told AFP.

"If they cannot do it, they should allow Iran to help us," he added.

The head of the provincial disaster management authority, Khalid Baluch, flew to Mashkail to assess the situation and admitted there was a problem.

"We have faced a lot of difficulties in bringing relief items as it is remote terrain and a desert area," he said.

Estimates of the number of people affected have risen steadily.

On Friday, local Mashkail administration official Syed Mureed Shah put the figure at more than 35,000 out of nearly 40,000 people scattered throughout the wider district of Washuk.

Thousands of homes are believed to have been damaged.

"We do not have enough relief goods," Shah added.

"Trucks carrying relief items are stranded because access to area is blocked and we have sent men and machinery to clear (the road).

"We have got only 300 tents but cannot distribute them because they are not enough and people not getting tents will create problem and unrest," he added.

Baluchistan, which also borders Afghanistan, is plagued by Islamist militancy, attacks on the Shiite Muslim minority and a separatist Baluch insurgency.

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