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ITU Provides Emergency Satellite Services to Pakistan's Earthquake-Hit Zones

After the earthquake in PakistanImmediately following the massive earthquake that struck the Pakistan-India border area in October 2005, ITU sent 55 satellite terminals to help restore vital communication links. Fifteen of the terminals were from ITU’s stock, procured following the signing of a co-financing agreement with Inmarsat Limited, which also contributed a further 40 regional broadband global network satellite terminals (RBGAN), free of charge. ITU undertook the responsibility of transporting and deploying all 55 terminals, as well as paying for all the air time arising from the use of these terminals.

The 15 GAN terminals are capable of providing voice, data and video services, and the 40 RBGAN terminals provide high-speed data communications. All are charged by solar panels, as the public power supply was badly damaged during the earthquake.

The terminals would be used to coordinate relief and rescue operations, and help establish public call centres to provide essential information to families and friends searching for their loved ones.Training was also provided to 22 physicians involved in a telemedicine initiative

To facilitate the deployment of the telecommunication equipment, Pakistan quickly designated 40 officials to be responsible for communications. These were trained by ITU in basic operations, as well as in technical aspects of the satellite terminals. Training was also provided to 22 physicians involved in a telemedicine initiative at the Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi. This training was primarily on how to use the 40 RBGAN terminals that were to be deployed by medical teams helping injured people in remote areas. Diagnostic information on patients is being transmitted via satellite to hospitals, for expert analysis and advice.

From ITU News No. 10 • December 2005

Map of Pakistan's affected area

About the disaster

A powerful earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck north-east of Islamabad in the Pakistan Kashmir region on the 8th October 2005. The affected areas comprise of a 92 km radial from the quake epicentre near the city of Muzzaffarabad.  Up to about 54,000 people were reported dead, 72,000 injured and about 3 million rendered homeless.

Infrastructure and services such as road network, electricity, water supply and telecommunications were badly affected.  According to reliable sources in the Ministry and newspaper sources, about 67 main and transit telecom exchanges, together with the buildings that housed them were destroyed in the areas affected by the earthquake thus, leaving a dearth in communications within the area and between the area and the rest of the country. 

Recent response efforts by ITU:

 

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Updated : 2007-09-21