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UN to help countries affected by Pakistan earthquake

UN to help countries affected by Pakistan earthquake

Following a massive earthquake in Pakistan that affected also Afghanistan and India, the United Nations is working with the governments of those countries on an emergency response.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is exploring “ways in which the United Nations can assist in all efforts required to support relief and rescue operations and in subsequent recovery and reconstruction,” a spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in New York.

The spokesman said Mr. Annan is “deeply saddened by the loss of life and destruction” caused by the quake, which had a magnitude of 7.6 and struck 95 kilometres outside of Islamabad.

"OCHA stands ready to dispatch an United Nations Disaster and Coordination Team (UNDAC) to help assess the damage and coordinate the response in Pakistan,” Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Jan Egeland said today.

In Geneva, an UNDAC team is on stand-by ready to be deployed at the request of the Government of Pakistan. An aircraft has been made available by the Government of Switzerland to fly directly to Islamabad later today.

In Pakistan, damage to buildings and houses have been reported in Islamabad. More severe damage is being reported in Muzaffarabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Peshawar. It is anticipated that the death toll might be severe..

The high intensity of the earthquake in Pakistan was also felt in Afghanistan and across northern India. In India, where buildings have collapsed, official reports confirm the death of more than 200 people and more than 400 injured. There is minor damage in Afghanistan where two people are reported to have been killed.