Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Concerns quake toll may reach 40,000

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations appealed on Tuesday for $272 million for quake survivors in northern Pakistan where, aid officials said, the death toll could hit 40,000, exceeding that in the Iranian city of Bam two years ago.

The U.N. inter-agency appeal aims to cover relief needs in the devastated Kashmir region -- including winterized tents, food, blankets, medicines, water purification equipment -- as well as reconstruction of some schools and health facilities.

"The appeal is to cover the immediate life-saving and early recovery needs for only the first six months of the emergency phase," Yvette Stevens, assistant U.N. emergency relief coordinator, told a news conference to launch the flash appeal.

"In terms of reconstruction, we would expect that the needs will be much, much greater," she added.

The death toll in Saturday's earthquake in northern Pakistan and India stood at least 21,000 people, but officials have said it could double as large parts of the region remain inaccessible as landslides swept away roads.

Stevens put the death toll at "at least 30,000", with four million people affected, including one million in acute need.

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