Outbreak of measles kills infant in survivors’ tent camp

MUZAFFARABAD — An outbreak of measles in a tent camp for earthquake survivors in Pakistani Kashmir has killed a young boy, underscoring the need to immunise children quickly, officials said yesterday.

By (AP)

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Published: Mon 5 Dec 2005, 10:08 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:18 PM

Health officer Sardar Mahmood said 14 cases of measles have been reported in one small camp in Hattian Bala, a town about 40km south of Muzaffarabad, and a 10-month-old boy has died of the disease.

“We have promptly taken measures and have enhanced an ongoing immunisation campaign with the cooperation of Unicef,” Mahmood said. “We have sent teams of doctors and paramedics to all the camps and isolated populations to immunise children against measles,” he said.

Doctors struggling with a constant flow of patients in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan’s part of Kashmir, warned that the number of sick could swell as frigid weather sets in. At least nine deaths have now been blamed on the cold. Aid workers are also concerned about the lack of adequate shelter for the estimated 3.5 million left homeless by the earthquake. Pakistani soldiers are building 5,000 shelters a day.

Aid workers say most of the hundreds of thousands of tents that already have been distributed cannot give quake survivors adequate protection against the cold, and sturdier corrugated iron shelters should be used.

The army has constructed about 30,000 such shelters.

Fearing a second wave of deaths, soldiers and emergency workers have been racing to get food and proper shelter for survivors of the October 8 quake that killed 87,000 people. Most of the deaths from the magnitude-7.6 temblor were in Kashmir

The WFP has accepted responsibility for feeding 1.3 million people, while 3 million are getting assistance from the government and 150,000 from the Red Cross.

WFP director James Morris said the agency has enough capacity to keep making aid flights to remote areas through January but needs more money carry on the air operation until April 30.

Trucks, donkeys, horses and Himalayan trekkers also have been used to reach the more remote areas.

“We need substantial help, and the helicopters are critical, given the weather, the rugged terrain, and our need to preposition a huge amount of food in places throughout the affected area before the weather gets terrible,” he said.

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