Additional MSF staff arrive with relief supplies
Chosen at random, MSF has visited six villages near Bhuj to consider the medical and relief needs of the area.
5 February 2001
Bhuj, February 5, 2001 - After a 24 hour technical delay, the second MSF cargo shipment for the earthquake survivers has landed near Bhuj. The flight contained another 40 tons of relief material as well as additional MSF staff. MSF has transported 80 tonnes of relief supplies to the region. Four additonal staff members also arrived. Although the medical aspect is shifting focus towards epidemiology, the dominant issue for the MSF ground staff remains distribution of shelter and basic relief goods to the population. The nights are cold and people could suffer the consequences through pneumonia, hypothermia and basic illnesses due to exposure. Although the latter is often not hazardous for a healthy individual, it could prove far more serious for younger children and the elderly. Distribution of the latest material should start today. MSF is distributing the goods via hired trucks with a five-ton capacity per truck. The target area is the entire quadrant contained from by the north and east boundaries. The current MSF strategy is to fulfill the needs of each village before moving on to the next. This has allowed greater cooperation and communication between the participating NGOs in the same area, preventing unnecessary duplication. Relief items being distributed include tents, blankets, plastic sheeting and occasionally collapsible water containers. Medical MSF teams visiting villages to the north and east of Bhuj are confident no injured people remain in these places. However all primary health care facilities have been destroyed and MSF staff are watching for signs of possible epidemic outbreaks. This is a key concern in Bhuj where the surviving population density, and number of hidden dead, are the highest. However epidemics are not a current health concern. There is no need for an MSF surgeon in the area, although fractures may take a long time to heal. Army and local hospital staff have been able to manage the present needs and have the necessary materials and equipment. Mental health The MSF psychologist at the earthquake scene has been setting up training groups and workshops with teachers, social workers and similar professionals to form the base of an outreach programme to extend into the villages surrounding Bhuj. The programme is being done in collaboration with the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) who has an Indian psychologist working there as well. The CRS psychologist is expected to have a longer-term commitment to the disaster area. The current mental health situation has seen an increase in anxiety, depression, anger through the surviving population. Elderly people are also suffering from guilt as often they have survived while their grandchildren have perished. MSF rapid-assessment of local villages North of Bhuj There are 13 villages in the region north of Bhuj and MSF staff visited six villages, randomly chosen, to assess the medical and watsan status in each. Lorai - west of the main northerly road, this village was totally destroyed in the earthquake and is now just one big mountain of rubble. People from a group of village inhabitants said the village had 300 families. Every single house was destroyed, five had died and there were several wounded people. They had received some food and blanket distribution, and a mobile medical team visits the village daily. Sumrasar - one of the villages furthest north of the area, on the east side of the main road. We only drove through this village. There were just a few houses (so far we could see only two) affected by the earthquake and they had minimal damage. People were in their houses and the shops were open. Nokhania - a village south of Loray. Villagers told us that there were 130 families and five houses were destroyed. There were no dead or wounded people. They received some food and blanket distribution and a mobile clinic visits the village daily. Kunaria - south of Sumrasar. There are approximately 130 families there and five houses were destroyed. There were no dead nor wounded. They received some food and blanket distribution as well as daily medical visits to the village. Dhori - east of Kunaria. One of the biggest villages in the area and it was badly damaged. At the time the MSF team was there, the army was present to clean up the streets which were totally blocked. The army goes from one village to another. There are 700 families in Dhori and 95% of the houses there were destroyed. There were ten dead and 30 injured. The people there had received food distribution. In the families where a relative died, the received plastic sheeting from the military. Two mobile teams are visiting this village on a daily basis. Kotia - south of Dhori. This village is made up of 200 families and approximately 60% of the structures there were destroyed. One person died and there were some injured. A mobile clinic is coming by daily. The MSF team met the mobile clinic at the village and, as they were running out of dressing material, MSF supplied them with more. This team is staying in the compound of Kutch Ficas Trust, North East of Bhuy. North East of Bhuy: Sandro - a small village. The village chief said there are 80 families in the village and all the houses had been destroyed. One person was dead and a couple of people injured. A mobile clinic is visiting by daily. Saras Pur - 85 families, and all the houses were destroyed. There were no dead or injured. A mobile clinic is visiting daily. East of Bhuj and north of Bhachau: Vandh - This village had a population of 10,000 and is estimated that approximately 3,000 dies in the earthquake. The village was totally destroyed. The surviving population has a water tank that is being filled by water trucks. Mobile teams come every day and patients are referred to Anjar. The village has been sponsored by a business company from Maharashtra. Ondai - population 8,000 inhabitants and was totally destroyed. Relief material distributed currently include five tents and 240 blankets. A water tank there is filled by water trucks. Medical facilities include a military hospital that refers the patients to Bhachau. Dawri - population 180 families and the village has been totally destroyed. Relief material distributed currently include 12 tents, four rolls of plastics sheeting and 270 blankets. Water tank filled by water trucks.