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2005-10-09 15:38:00
Embassy Islamabad
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ISLAMABAD 015208 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/09/2015


Classified By: Derived from DSCG 05-01, B

1. (c) Summary and Comment: The scale of devastation from
yesterday's earthquake is becoming increasingly clear as
information comes in from remote, outlying provinces. The
Government now estimates that the number of fatalities could
range between 32,000 and 40,000 -- and possibly more.
Villages have been wiped out by the quake itself or by
resulting landslides and large areas of the north have been
rendered inaccessible by damage to roads. It is now clear
that a sizable, coordinated effort will be needed to provide
relief and to support reconstruction. Having returned from a
tour of the north, Musharraf's top priorities are helicopter
lift, tents, blankets and medicine. Other donors have joined
us in assembling relief packages, but Pakistani officials
have made clear that they will need significant helicopter
capacity to deliver assistance -- something they will likely
need for the foreseeable future and that the United States is
uniquely positioned to provide. Given U.S. interests in
Pakistan and the region, it is imperative that we come
forward with a substantial and flexible relief package. We
have an opportunity to win considerable goodwill --
particularly within affected populations in the Northern
Areas, Pakistani Kashmir and the NWFP -- and to demonstrate
that we are a strategic partner they can count on. In line
with our other commitments to Pakistan, we recommend we seize
the high ground and be prepared to announce an assistance
package of at least $20 million, and be the first off the
block to say that we are interested not only in relief, but
also rebuilding. (By way of comparison, we would note that
the appropriation for Tsunami relief totaled $901 million.)
End Summary and Comment.

The Toll


2. (u) While the GOP is literally digging out from the
wreckage of Saturday morning's earthquake -- the worst in
Pakistan's recorded history -- it is clear that the scope of
Saturday morning's earthquake will be a major humanitarian
disaster, far exceeding initial estimates. On Sunday
morning, GOP officials went public with a figure of roughly
18,000 fatalities, but they are telling the international
donor community their own estimates are 32,000 fatalities,
and they realistically assume that figure could rise to
40,000. Four million people will be affected by quake
damage, split roughly between the North West Frontier
Province and Azad Jammu-Kashmir/Northern Areas.
International media coverage has focused on discrete
incidents of damage and building collapse in the major urban
areas of Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore, but it is already
clear from phone reports that the scale of devastation is

considerably greater in the inaccessible mountainous area
near the epicenter, where there are reports of entire
villages being leveled by landslides. Landslides have closed
many of the mountain roadways that form the principal means
of access to the hill communities near the epicenter; while
the GOP optimistically estimates they will reopen most within
several days, some of the worst hit could take weeks to
repair. Here in Islamabad, donor coordination has been
hampered by an inability to move back into the high rises
where many UN bodies and ngo's have their offices, until
their structural soundness has been confirmed.

3. (u) The Embassy and American Citizen community in
Pakistan has largely been spared. Our Consular Section's
warden system, as well as a quick check of the hospitals here
in Islamabad, has uncovered no American Citizen casualties.
We have confirmed that the entire American staff of the
Embassy, as well as TDY staff, is unhurt. We have confirmed
that no FSN employees were killed or seriously injured; as
best we know, only one FSN family member (the son of the
DCM's driver) was killed, in the Azad area near the
epicenter. It appears the Embassy's physical plant --
chancery, residence, housing compound and leased and owned
residential properties -- did not sustain significant damage.

Identified Needs


4. (u) U.N. agencies are working together to put together a
flash appeal for donor contributions that they plan to
release on Monday evening. Our understanding is the flash
appeal will focus on relief needs but also contain a
preliminary assessment of the reconstruction needs. The GOP
has outlined its near term priorities to the donor community
as the following:
-- shelter for up to four million affected. (Embassy Note:
the majority of quake damage occurred in a mountainous region
where temperatures will drop significantly within about a
month. There will be significant need for winter-weight
tents, building supplies, and possibly prefab housing);
-- health support -- hospitals (both civil and military),
mobile hospitals, surgical supplies, and disease control
-- water (containers, purification equipment and water itself)
-- search and rescue support.

5. (u) In the near term, there is also a need for earth
moving equipment to help clear roads to the affected areas.
It is possible that the damage will prompt a flow of
displaced persons out of the mountains south to the plains
around Islamabad and Rawalpindi, in which case supplies to
support camps will be needed. The U.N. country team, led by
UNDAC (UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination) has organized
itself around the following clusters of priorities, with the
indicated body in the lead: health (WHO) nutrition (UNICEF);
water and sanitation (UNICEF), shelter (International
Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies);
logistics (WFP); emergency telecommunications (WFP);
protection (UNHCR) and camp management (UNHCR).

U.S. Response to Date


6. (u) On Sunday, the Embassy released a press statement
outlining our initial contribution to help Pakistan address
this disaster:
-- an immediate contribution of $500,000 for emergency relief
supplier, to be provided through NGOs
-- eight U.S. military helicopters to assist in bringing in
emergency relief to communities and villages affected by the
-- A seven-person Disaster Assistant Response Team (DART),
scheduled to arrive on October 10 and 11, which will assess
humanitarian needs, assist with targeting and coordination of
USG assistance, and provide technical assistance as needed;
-- Relief commodities being airlifted to Pakistan from USG
stockpiles in the region, including: 250 rolls of plastic
sheeting (sufficient for approximately 2,500 families), 5,000
blankets, and 5,000 water containers.
-- An ongoing military airlift of other relief supplies.
-- U.S.-funded Ministry of Interior Airwing is providing
helicopters for aerial relief support.
-- Two C-130 aircraft in-bound to Islamabad tonight (October
9) with humanitarian relief supplies.

Other Donors


7. (u) Most major donors have also made contributions, and
have indicated they anticipate providing significantly more
as more detailed information becomes available. Nine
countries are sending search and rescue teams (China, Korea,
Russia, Turkey, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Japan
and the United Arab Emirates). NGOs working in country,
including Save the Children, Mercy Corps and Oxfam, have
established an NGO secretariat in Islamabad to coordinate

Next Steps


8. (u) Musharraf toured the north today. His Military
Secretary and ISI Director General Kiyani both contacted me

subsequently to convey Musharraf's urgent request for
helicopter lift, tents, blankets and medicine. Both were very
grateful for CFC-A's quick action to make available eight
aircraft. It is clear, however, that the magnitude of the
task will require more assets, and for a prolonged period of