MSF intervenes for Siberian earthquake

On October 2, MSF sent an emergency team in response to waves of earthquakes in Siberia, Russia. With a population of around 17,000, the region of Kosh-Agach has been most affected by the quakes, which, in places, have left the earth scarred by fissures of up to six metres in width and 400 metres in length.

There are 12 villages that have been struck by the series of quakes registering beyond seven on the Richter scale, and according to state figures, six hospitals have been destroyed and a further 12 at least partially damaged.

According to MSF emergency coordinator Charles Goethals, "the inaccessibility of the region has been one of the biggest challenges, not only in terms of the vast distances to cover, but also due to the fact that over 100km of road has been blocked by debris from the quakes. But in the last few days we have been able to dispatch one team from Moscow and another from Kemerovo with drugs, medical materials and blankets."

Although the number of casualties is reportedly low, the days following the quakes have seen a marked increase in incidences of trauma, stress syndromes and respiratory disorders. MSF has responded through the distribution of required medicines to still functioning health centres and hospitals.

"But one of the biggest worries," said Goethals, "is that with so many homes destroyed and the temperature dropping to -15° Celsius at night, the cold might prove to be just as dangerous for the people as the earthquake itself."

In addition to medicines, the MSF team comprising of seven staff is also in the process of distributing locally purchased clothes as well as 1,500 blankets and 1,500 hygienic kits.