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Press Release

Monday, 29th January 2001

Worst earthquake for 50 years
as parts of Gujarat, India are devastated

Within hours after the earthquake hit Gujarat on Friday, EHA contacted its partners and decided to work along with EFICOR, an Indian relief and development NGO. An emergency team of 4 doctors and 4 nurses have rushed to Ahmedabad. They have already started to provide medical and surgical facilities through two mobile clinics set up in the Bhuj area. EHA will continue to monitor the situation and plan further interventions after an initial needs assessment within 72 hours.

An earthquake of intensity 6.9 – 7.9 on the Richter scale rocked Kutch, Ahmedabad and some other regions of Gujarat on 26th January, with widespread death and destruction. The devastating earthquake with its epicentre 20km northeast of Bhuj in Gujarat, western India, affected western Gujarat, Rajasthan and East Pakistan. Bhuj was worst affected with “nothing standing between sky and the earth.” Ahmedabad, the commercial capital of Gujarat was also severely affected with more than fifty multi-storeyed buildings being razed to the ground.

The death toll, by conservative figures, is estimated to rise to around 20,000.  6072 bodies have so far been recovered (29/01).  90% of structures in Bhuj were flattened and around 75000 people are feared trapped within the inaccessible walled city. A total of 275 aftershocks and nine tremors 3.1 –5.9 on the Richter scale have been felt since then. There are reports of large-scale destruction and death from Morbi, Maliya and Navlakhi regions. In Bhuj, which bore the brunt of nature’s fury, civic facilities have come to a standstill. Electricity and telephone contact has not yet been restored. Relief teams that have begun to trickle into the area are involved primarily in search and rescue operations.

Aftermath of the earthquake:
With the authorities busy with clearing the debris, the areas hit will have to fight a new enemy: disease.  Even as the regions of Gujarat shudder from strong aftershocks, the spectre of epidemics breaking out is imminent.The large number of bodies lying under tonnes of concrete, accumulated garbage, ravaged sewage system coupled with unclean water and surroundings have made the outbreak of water borne diseases inevitable.

Government Response:
Naval ships with surgical facilities have reached the Gujarat coast. The army and relief teams from NGOs as well as foreign rescue teams are working round the clock. As the hospitals of Bhuj have been destroyed and medical personnel themselves affected, the medical infrastructure is practically nonexistent, considering the magnitude of the crisis.

Ram Gidoomal CBE, founder of South Asian Development Partnership (SADP) which is assisting in raising funds for EHA, says, “This national disaster demands our response.  The needs are immediate; our response must match the needs.”

Please send your donations to:  SADP (registered charity no. 1005384), Gujarat Earthquake Appeal, PO Box 43, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5WL.

The Government Gift Aid Scheme will maximise the value of your gift for UK taxpayers (forms available on request from 0208-770 9717).  For further information contact Deepak Mahtani, Trustee of South Asian Development Partnership & Emmanuel Hospital Association UK.

EHA has been providing health services to the poor communities in India for the past 29 years. During national crises, EHA's commitment is to responsiveness, innovation and flexibility, as was shown by the building of the Priya-GMTV Hospital in Dapegaon in Maharastra following the 1993 earthquake.  More recently in 1999 with 2 medical relief teams serving Kosovan refugee camps in Albania under UNHCR and later in the year in Orissa, following the mega cyclone. These were the results of consortium partnerships linking with other agencies involved in development both within India and abroad.

Press Release | 29/01/01 Progress Report | Relief Work Budget | 16/03/01 Progress Report
Overview | South Asian Earthquake | Tsunami Appeal | Kosovo | Orissa | Gujarat
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