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The BBC's Mike Wooldridge
"The relief operation - Indian and international - grows day by day"
 real 56k

Saturday, 3 February, 2001, 06:57 GMT
Rescuers prepare to leave quake zone
Survivors of the Indian earthquake
The dazed survivors are facing disease and hunger
One week after India's catastrophic earthquake, international rescue teams are preparing to wind up their searches and leave as hopes evaporate of finding any more buried survivors.

Meanwhile, medical staff are working around the clock in the earthquake zone to treat the injured in makeshift hospitals, amid concerns that the population faces a massive outbreak of disease.

Funeral pyre
Funeral pyres are burning day and night
A 400-bed field hospital - the largest such unit in the world - has been set up by the Red Cross in the devastated city of Bhuj and is already inundated with patients.

But anger and frustration are growing over the progress of the relief operation. Although most people have now received some help, aid has been inconsistent and sporadic in many areas.

On Friday, the government announced that it would give up its majority stake in the state-run telephone company, VSNL, to help raise funds to pay for emergency aid and reconstruction.

Angry crowds

The BBC's Daniel Lak says government ministers are frequently encountering angry crowds as they travel to survey damage and relief efforts.

Survivors of the Indian earthquake pick through bundles of donated clothing
Survivors sift through donations of clothes
Private organisations - international and Indian - are still taking the lead role, along with hundreds of Indian charities working around the clock alongside the Red Cross, Oxfam and Save the Children.

Police in Ahmedabad have also laid criminal charges against several builders following the collapse of several new high-rise apartments during the quake.

And Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan's military ruler have spoken on the telephone, for the first time since General Pervez Musharraf seized power.

An Indian spokesman said the general conveyed his sympathy at the loss of life caused by the earthquake

Struggling to cope

Tens of thousands of people who survived the earthquake have spent the last week without proper shelter, running water, adequate food or basic sanitation.

Besides treating the thousands of casualties, health workers are working to prevent the spread of infection.

Doctors fear that the 300,000 people left homeless by the quake could be vulnerable to diseases such as typhoid, gastro-enteritis and cholera.

Official estimates of the death toll currently run to 30,000, but thousands of bodies still lie beneath the ruins of towns like Bhuj.

They are slowly being removed, but many are now decomposing and becoming a potential source of infection.

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See also:

02 Feb 01 | South Asia
Call breaks India-Pakistan standoff
01 Feb 01 | South Asia
In pictures: Aid operation in Gujarat
01 Feb 01 | South Asia
Indians mobilise for quake victims
31 Jan 01 | South Asia
Minister resigns over quake remarks
30 Jan 01 | Media reports
Press faults quake relief effort
30 Jan 01 | South Asia
Aid effort switches to survivors
02 Feb 01 | South Asia
Web helps find quake survivors
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