MSF active at quake region within hours with tent hospitals and make-shift ambulances
27 March 2002
A team of six MSF medical staff have been active in the Afghanistan town of Nahrin following a series of earthquakes from evening March 25 to the early hours of the 26th. As MSF teams were already situated in Afghanistan, staff were able to reach the area by noon yesterday and had installed a three tent health facility by 13.30 hrs. The affected population is 15,000 to 20,000 in Nahrin town specifically. In the Nahrin region, there is approximately 80,000 people. Overall assessments of the region are difficult to gather as there are few helicopters available to give aerial coverage and ground transport is restricted for multiple reasons. Aftershocks are still ongoing along with some major tremors. The last registered earthquake occurred at 8.25 local time on March 27. On the first day, 160 patients were treated by MSF and 36 of which were transferred to the two hospitals in Phul-I-Khumri. Staff have been working around the clock since their arrival and 26 patients were kept in the tent facility overnight. Today, over 180 patients have been seen so far in the MSF tent health facilities and the team has been repeating the tours of the region they made yesterday with the vehicles, using the trucks as make-shift ambulances to transport people back to a medical facility. The earthquakes have brought substantial damage to the market town and the neighbouring area. In Nahrin, over 80% if the city is considered destroyed. There are only three roads through the region and two of them have been badly damaged, which will have obvious effects to the access o humanitarian aid in the immediate future. Nahrin is situated close to what was the front-line region between Afghanistan and the Northern Province. The region, apart from being physically mountainous and difficult to access, has also been heavily mined due to past military activity, presenting additional issues for access. The largest immediate needs remain shelter, water and food. People are sleeping outside and are exposed to the elements. There is no facility yet for IDPs and so 'ad hoc' and spontaneous shelters are the norm.