§ 1. Mr. PALING
asked the Under-Secretary of State for India whether he has any further information to give the House regarding the earthquake disaster at Quetta?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Butler)
Full information about the earthquake in amplification of that which was given in reply to the question asked by the right hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) on the 3rd June has appeared in the public Press. The following figures will give an idea of the extent of the disaster. The range of the earthquake is now estimated at having been 130 miles long and 20 miles broad. Besides Quetta and the towns of Kalat and Mastung at least 100 villages have been totally destroyed. It is feared that the total death roll, including the countryside, is probably more than 40,000. European casualties amount to about 190 killed and 240 injured. In Quetta itself, out of a population of 45,000, between 20,000 and 30,000 have been killed. The number of destitute refugees is estimated at not less than 15,000, of whom many thousands are injured.
3 The Public Health Commissioner, Lieut.-Colonel Russell, I.M.S., is proceeding to Quetta to investigate the health situation in consultation with the local medical and public health authorities and Mr. B. M. Staig, I.C.S., Financial Adviser, Military Finance, has been appointed Earthquake Commissioner to co-ordinate measures of relief and to advise Government on the many miscellaneous problems that will arise.
Supplies of all kinds have fortunately been adequate. Some 30,000 Indians and 6,000 Europeans, including troops, have been fed in the refugee camps. Evacuation is steadily proceeding. Arrangements have been made for the evacuation of between 700 and 800 members of European families, who will be accommodated at Karachi pending provision of passage.
Salvage operations were commenced on the 4th June, but had to be suspended for hygienic reasons, and in the interests of public health the city remains closed -under guard. Such operations as are consistent with safety and public health are being carried on.
A grant of 10 lakhs of rupees to supplement the fund opened by the Viceroy has been made by the Government of India in order to ensure that adequate funds are available for immediate relief. In addition, the House will be asked to vote the sum of £50,000 for the same purpose. The Lord Mayor has opened a fund for the relief of the victims. A meeting at the Mansion House, in which leaders of all departments of public life will take part, is to be held in the near future in aid of the fund. It is hoped that the appeal will meet with a generous response.
My Noble Friend would like to take this opportunity of expressing his admiration for the splendid work done by all those on the spot in dealing with the effects of this appalling calamity.
§ Mr. KIRKPATRICK
Has the attention of my hon. Friend been drawn to the fact that all those buildings which were built by earthquake-proof methods escaped damage, and will he have the matter investigated in order to ascertain the policy of the Indian Government with regard to earthquake-proof buildings?
§ Mr. BUTLER
I understand that the Government of India have already paid attention to this subject, but I will draw my hon. Friend's observations to their notice.