ISLAMABAD, Dec 23: Federal Relief Commissioner Maj-Gen Farooq Ahmad on Friday said that over 9,000 people were still missing since the Oct 8 earthquake and were believed to be dead.

Addressing a press briefing, he said most of those people belonged to the NWFP and added that Rs16 billion had been distributed in compensation.

Referring to the damming of water caused by the quake in two streams of Hattian Bala, he said a report on the action plan to deal with the threat would be submitted to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Monday.

A huge landslide had blocked the Karli and Salmia streams increasing water levels in the areas of Azad Kashmir.

The relief commissioner said that construction of one-room shelter was continuing and so far over 200,000 winterized shelters had been provided to survivors. About 35,000 more shelters were under construction, he added.

He pointed out that focus had now been shifted to ensure provision of winterized shelters to quake victims living below an altitude of 5,000 feet.

He said priority was being given to improving the ration and medicine stocks in the areas likely to become inaccessible because of snows.

He said that over 700,000 tents and more than 4.9 million blankets and quilts had been provided to quake victims.

Fifty-five tent villages have been established accommodating over 58,000 people in AJK and 20 tent schools have been set up with a strength of 89 teachers, where over 1,100 students were studying.

Likewise, 23 tent villages have been established in the NWFP accommodating over 35,000 people besides 20 schools where over 3,000 students studied with the help of 100 teachers.

According to the relief commissioner, 400 ‘spontaneous’ tent villages have also come up in the NWFP accommodating over 100,000 people.

He said that more than 443,000 CGI sheets had been delivered to the affected areas and more were en route.

He said Cuba had agreed to leave behind its 32 field hospitals with equipment when its doctors and paramedical staff would return home in March. He said the government had also requested other foreigners working in the affected areas to leave their hospitals and equipment.

Answering a question, Maj-Gen Ahmad said that Nato relief workers would leave Pakistan by the end of January.

He said 400 members of the National Volunteer Movement had been sent to the affected areas for relief and rehabilitation work.

APP adds: He said Christmas would be celebrated the day after tomorrow and “I salute all those (Christian volunteers) who will be spending it with the affected people”.

He said that Iranians who had established healthcare facilities in the earthquake hits areas had donated it and “we have taken over the hospitals”.

He said that the forthcoming visit of former US president George Bush senior to Pakistan would have a positive impact on fundraising efforts.

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