ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A year after a devastating earthquake struck northern Pakistan, more than 1.8 million survivors face a second harsh winter in makeshift shelters and tents, the aid group Oxfam International said Wednesday.
A magnitude-7.6 quake struck Pakistan's northwest and its portion of Kashmir on Oct. 8, 2005, leaving more than 80,000 people dead and over 3 million others homeless.
Only 17 percent of the 450,000 affected households have begun building permanent homes, said Oxfam, which estimated that almost all the rest, equivalent to 1.8 million people, are still living in temporary shelters.
Oxfam found that 40,000 homeless quake survivors are living in tent camps that lack adequate protection against winter weather, and some 60,000 more people could be forced to leave their mountain villages to escape severe cold in the coming months, Oxfam said.
Thousands of others in remote rural areas risk being cut off from deliveries of food, fuel and medicine when snow blocks the roads, it said.
Oxfam said winter appeared to have arrived early, with snow already falling in some mountainous areas.
The pace of reconstruction has been hindered by the scale of the disaster, mountainous terrain, poor infrastructure, extreme weather and problems with disseminating public information, the group said.
"Reconstruction has been slow and problematic," the statement said, adding that almost one-third of those who have begun rebuilding have not complied with official building guidelines, sometimes unwittingly.