With everything gone, relief is just the start

February 4, 2001 - The situation in Bhuj, where MSF is currently working following the 7.9 earthquake on Jan 26, remains one where relief needs are the pressing concern for the remaining population. The situation is not seen as an urgent medical emergency but one of ensuring people have the necessary supplies and infrastructure to ensure their continued well-being in the aftermath. MSF is continuing to distribute materials in the villages north and east of Bhuj, ensuring care and equipment to those areas surrounding Bhuj. However the second cargo flight, with a second 40 tonnes of relief goods, has been delayed for 24 hours due to technical reasons. When distributing necessary relief supplies, the culture of the caste system in India is to be considered. It is important to identify one person from each caste per village. If each caste is not represented, it is most likely that members of the lowest caste shall not receive relief items. MSF is assisted by local people to ensure all castes are represented. An MSF team is to conduct a rapid assessment along the road to Khavda, north of Bhuj, where there are suspicions no one has yet visited. "We are using mobile clinics and trucks with relief material to reach the villages in remote areas. Everybody we meet have had family members killed in the quake," said MSF Dr Paula Farias from Spain. "The nights are cold, just a few degrees above zero, and there is a huge need for basic things like tents and blankets to avoid pneumonia and hypothermia. They spend the nights outside, huddled around fires, trying to stay warm." Additional distribution and medical assessments were conducted in three villages northeast of Bhuj, (Lodai, Paiya, Jhikdi). There were only two medical cases, but there is a large need for relief items. A second similar trip to Bauchau town, approximately 80km away, and the seven or eight villages along the way has shown the villages are all but destroyed. MSF donated a trigano tent and one surgical kit to the Bhachau hospital, which is well medially equipped and conducting major surgery. MSF will return soon to follow up on their needs (water, medical supplies).