Over 30 people are reported to have succumbed to pneumonia in the earthquake affected areas of Pakistan. Most of the casualties are children. The severe cold in the earthquake-hit areas is reported to have triggered the pneumonia which has affected several hundred people. The inadequate medical facilities in the quake-hit areas may result in many more people succumbing to pneumonia.
'More than 30 people have been reported dead because of pneumonia by the aid agencies and hospitals working in the earthquake-hit areas,' Geo television said quoting its correspondents from Kashmir and NWFP.
Pneumonia and other cold related diseases are fairly common in the winter in these areas but this year the number of patients suffering from such diseases has swelled when compared to previous years because people affected by the earthquake are living in tents, which is inadequate protection from the severe cold.
However ARY channel said that 28 people have died because of cold-related diseases. The television report said that most of these deaths occurred in highlands and far flung areas.
'Given the vulnerability of the survivors in the freezing cold, such cases are bound to increase, but we are prepared to cope with the situation,' Health Secretary Syed Anwar Mahmood told IANS.
He said that many of the patients who are in a serious condition are being airlifted to Islamabad and other parts of the country while six mobile teams have been sent to these areas. More would be sent by Thursday morning.
The Health Secretary however disagreed with the figure being given by the newspapers and television channels saying, 'These are inflated figures...however we are aware to the situation and doing our utmost to save the lives.'
Kashmir and parts of the NWFP witnessed harsh winter weather at the weekend with up to 8 inches of snowfall at high altitudes and up to 1.2 inches of rain in lower areas, adding to the miseries of the survivors and hampering relief operations.
Relief operations resumed on Monday after the weather cleared and continued on Wednesday, but the chill persists. With more snowfall expected, the threat is likely to grow with thousands of children and older people being the most vulnerable.
'This development shows why it is very important for us to do more, and quickly,' said UN Chief of Emergency Operations Andrew MacLeod.