Hundreds more survivors of Pakistan's huge earthquake sought treatment Thursday for weather-related ailments following a cold snap, hospital officials said. The known death toll in northern Pakistan from the arrival of the brutal Himalayan winter stood at eight. Hospitals in the quake zone on Wednesday reported treating more than 700 people suffering from pneumonia, hypothermia and other illnesses, and said hundreds more had come in by early Thursday, though the weather was turning sunnier and warmer. Doctors have said the situation could worsen in the coming weeks if arrangements are not made quickly to provide shelters equipped to deal with harsh winter conditions to quake survivors. Officials worry that a lack of sufficient shelters and aid could cause a second disaster for the 3.5 million people who lost their homes in Oct. 8's 7.6 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 87,000 people.
Mild aftershocks were felt in northwestern Pakistan, Islamabad and elsewhere on Thursday, but a magnitude was not immediately know, said Sailur Rahman, an official at the meteorological department. He said they had not received any reports about any damage.
The farmer from Nauseri, a village about 45 kilometers (30 miles) north of Muzaffarabad, is living in one tent in a refugee camp with his wife and their three children, along with the four children of a brother and his wife who were killed in the earthquake.
"We need a stove, more blankets and warm clothes to keep warm," he said as his three children huddled in a blanket in one corner of the tent. "We try to keep the children in the tent to protect them from the cold. We light a fire outside the tent at night and in the morning. This helps the children to get warm."
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Pakistan has said the onset of winter conditions is severely hampering relief operations. Officials also are seeking to keep the focus on the immediate needs of survivors instead of allowing it to shift to long-term reconstruction.
Pakistan's government told NATO on Thursday that it can wrap up its relief operations in January, when its 90-mandate expires. Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan praised NATO's help, calling it "timely and substantial in providing shelter, especially through the transportation of tents and other relief supplies, to the affected areas." NATO has made over 147 relief flights to date, while the U.S. Air Force flew its 250th relief mission earlier this week, reports the AP. N.U.