ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, AP -The United Nations said Sunday it has halted all relief flights to Pakistan’s quake-scarred Kashmir region and surrounding territories because heavy rain and snow has blanketed the area.
U.N. spokesman Ben Malor said all relief flights, which form the bulk of the mammoth aid operation, were suspended Sunday morning, and the world body was “observing the situation hour by hour.”
He said flights could resume later Sunday if there was a break in the weather pattern. Pakistan’s Meteorological Department warned of heavy snow from this weekend that could trigger avalanches.
The Oct. 8 7.6-magnitude quake, which killed some 87,000 people, mostly in Pakistani-administered Kashmir and the country’s North West Frontier Province. Another 1,350 were killed in India’s portion of Kashmir.
Around 3.5 million were made homeless. Officials say the freezing temperatures could spark more deaths, especially among those living in tents that can’t keep out wind, rain and snow in mountainous areas.
The United Nations said earlier it would now focus on reaching spontaneous and unplanned camps. Officials have also made plans to cater for up to 60,000 survivors who may try to escape the winter cold by evacuating the mountains regions and move to lower ground.