Aid workers say that those affected by the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that shook much of South Asia on Monday are at risk of death from exposure as temperatures fall to near-freezing levels and rain and snow cover remote parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, cutting off access and communications.
“We are extremely concerned for the safety and well-being of children, who are already the most at risk in any disaster and are now in danger of succumbing to the elements as temperatures plummet,” Karin Hulshof, the regional director for UNICEF South Asia, said in a statement.
Tents and blankets are desperately needed to ensure that many of those left homeless by the earthquake don’t perish as a result of the cold, UNICEF says. In certain regions of Pakistan, officials have also complained of a lack of clean drinking water.
The death toll has climbed to 385 since Monday, and casualty figures will likely increase once rescuers and aid workers access areas that can be reached only by foot or donkey, reports AP. Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority has yet to reach many of the most badly hit areas in the country, according to the BBC.
The International Rescue Committee said it is particularly worried about getting to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan and Federally Administrated Tribal Areas in the northwest of the country.
Even the Afghan Taliban, who some complain is obstructing relief work, has called for aid agencies to make a concerted push to reach victims.