Source Pravda.Ru

Pakistani quake kills 10,000 children

Survivors of the Pakistan earthquake will be engulfed in a "wave of death" unless the international aid effort is stepped up immediately, the United Nations secretary-general said yesterday.Kofi Annan challenged the rich countries to face their responsibilities after days of relative indifference to a disaster that relief experts say will have worse consequences than the Boxing Day tsunami.

"I expect results. There are no excuses," Mr Annan said. "If we are to show ourselves worthy of calling ourselves members of humankind, we must rise to this challenge."

Almost two weeks after the quake, less than 14 per cent of the UN's emergency appeal for Ј180 million has been received.

Unicef, the UN children's organisation, yesterday estimated that 10,000 children will die in weeks. The figure was described as "conservative" by a UN field worker.

Although the official death count remains at 49,739, local authorities put it at almost 80,000.

Mr Annan said he was writing to "a whole set of countries" asking for 450,000 more winter-proof tents and shelters, two million blankets and sleeping bags. Vaccines are also required.

By last night, despite repeated and increasingly desperate requests, the world's armies had between them mustered only 68 operational helicopters - vital for lifting tents, food and medical supplies to the inaccessible mountains of Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

The lack of helicopters means precious time is being lost as many areas where survivors are still without shelter will be covered in deep snow by early next month.

Forecasters are predicting five days of clear weather, but without more helicopters, aid agencies say, the "weather window" cannot be used to the full. "It is a race against time to save the lives of these people," Mr Annan said.

Britain waited almost 11 days before announcing that it was to supply three helicopters.

According to the UN's latest figures of cash and donations in kind - as opposed to theoretical pledges - Britain stands eighth behind nations such as Japan, Holland, Sweden, Norway and Australia.

However, Hillary Benn, the International Development Secretary, visited the earthquake zone yesterday and pledged an additional Ј20 million, bringing the total British package to Ј33 million, reports News Telegraph. I.L.