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Friday, 29 March, 2002, 12:45 GMT
Quake aid efforts hit bad weather
Street scene in Nahrin, devastated by this week's earthquakes
About 80 towns and villages were badly affected
Efforts to deliver aid to areas of northern Afghanistan hit by the recent series of earthquakes are now being threatened by deteriorating weather conditions.

This has turned into a logistical nightmare. Rain is the last thing we needed.

Aid worker
Freezing rain, expected to last several days, is reported to be turning dirt roads in Baghlan province into mud and threatening to prevent crucial helicopter deliveries of food and other basics.

Relief efforts have also been disrupted by landmines and aftershocks.

Thousands of displaced people continue to camp outside the market town of Nahrin, afraid to return to their homes because of continuing aftershocks.

Peacekeepers arrive in Nahrin to help humanitarian efforts
Locals warmly welcomed the 120 foreign soldiers from Kabul
However, a convoy of international peacekeepers has arrived in Nahrin with medical supplies.

The number of dead confirmed so far stands at about 800, with 500 others seriously injured.

Afghan officials earlier predicted the number of dead could reach 3,000.

The tremors, which began on Monday evening, devastated Nahrin and nearby villages in the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains.

Air drops

The interim Afghan government, the United Nations, charities and foreign military forces are all involved in relief efforts.

"Food is the main priority now", said UN regional coordinator for northern Afghanistan Farhana Faruqi.

Boy with shovel outside his house in Nahrin
UN officials estimate 100,000 people in the region need assistance
Water was the next priority, with huge water containers being moved to 14 selected villages, she said.

Food drops were being considered as a last resort as aid teams struggled to reach devastated outlying villages.

Another aid worker - Joerg Denker of Mercy Corps - estimated that aid of some sort had now reached 95% of affected villages.

"The situation is improving, but I was out in a remote region distributing blankets until 2am, so there still are areas where the need is great," he said.

Engineers on ground

A mobile hospital is being set up by the convoy of the International Security Assistance Force which brought five doctors and 20 other medical staff to Nahrin.

The team plans to deal with broken bones and other injuries sustained in the quakes.

The party also includes engineers to see whether it is possible to restore electricity and reconstruct rebuildings.

US and British helicopters have ferried more than 90,000 kilogrammes of aid to the town, including rice beans, wheat, water, blankets, tents and medical supplies, a US military spokesman said.


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The BBC's Caroline Wyatt
"This mission is not without risk"

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See also:

28 Mar 02 | South Asia
Aid pours in for Afghan quake victims
28 Mar 02 | South Asia
Afghanistan quake: How to help
27 Mar 02 | South Asia
'Scenes of devastation' in quake zone
26 Mar 02 | South Asia
Quake relief effort
27 Mar 02 | South Asia
Search for Afghan quake survivors
26 Mar 02 | Sci/Tech
Hindu Kush: High-risk quake zone
07 Feb 02 | South Asia
Timeline: Afghanistan
15 Feb 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Afghanistan
27 Mar 02 | South Asia
In pictures: Afghan quake
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