As British rescuers continued searching in the rubble yesterday for survivors, a plane carrying 19,000 blankets for Islamic Relief, as well as tents and plastic sheeting, was on its way from the East Midlands to Islamabad, in the latest airlift coordinated by the Department for International Development.
The DfID has already sent 75 specialist search and rescue teams to Pakistan to help recover people trapped in the ruins of collapsed buildings and plans further airlifts of blankets, tents and tarpaulins over the next fortnight.
But the £1m pledged by the DfID is a fraction of what the Disasters and Emergency Committee (DEC), which is coordinating the response of Britain's 13 leading agencies in the region, predicts will be needed. Launching its Asia Quake Appeal yesterday, Brendan Gormley, the chief executive of the DEC, said: "We are receiving overwhelming evidence that funds are desperately needed for relief work. Thousands of families are experiencing terrible suffering, particularly children, and we must help in every way we can."
International Rescue Corps, one of the first teams into Muzaffarabad in Kashmir, said its 20-strong team was already facing a "desperate" situation, with people greatly in need of medicines, food and water. Underlining the severity of the crisis, Hilary Benn, the international development secretary, said that the priority was emergency health and trauma kits and night shelters for the some 40,000 homeless. "Shelter is an urgent priority as night temperatures fall."
However, following the DEC's tsunami appeal, which raised £300m, some charities expressed concern that the public might be suffering compassion fatigue. Islamic Relief, a DEC charity, is also concerned that the appeal, which coincides with Ramadan, could divert funds from other important Muslim causes.