Oral Answers to Questions — Cyprus Earthquake (Relief and Rehabilitation)

– in the House of Commons am 12:00 am ar 21 Hydref 1953.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Sir Patrick Donner Sir Patrick Donner , Basingstoke 12:00, 21 Hydref 1953

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) what financial aid Her Majesty's Government proposes to give to Cyprus to assist rehabilitation in view of the severe earthquake last month;

(2) how many tents have been asked for by the Commissioner for the Paphos district, Cyprus, far people rendered homeless by the earthquake; and how many have now been delivered;

(3) whether he will make a statement concerning the situation in the Paphos district of Cyprus.

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

There were 40 deaths and 100 other persons were admitted to hospital. Immediate relief was provided and over 6,000 tents and marquees have been distributed. Damage is estimated at over£2 million. Her Majesty's Government are ready to give substantial assistance and are awaiting certain information from the Governor before deciding on its amount and form. I will, with permission, circulate a fuller statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I am sure that the sympathy of the House will go out to all the sufferers in this disaster.

Photo of Sir Patrick Donner Sir Patrick Donner , Basingstoke

While I welcome the Minister's expression of sympathy for the people who have suffered so much in this devastating earthquake, will he bear in mind that there are still thousands of people sleeping out in the cold at night in tents? Will he give an assurance that at least as much will be done for these people in this Colony as was done for the people of the Ionian Isles? Secondly, is he aware that the Public Relations Department is so inadequate that the population have little idea of the Herculean efforts made by the Commissioner for Paphos and his staff?

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

I am investigating that allegation about the Public Relations Department, of which my hon. Friend informed me yesterday. My attention has not been called to that before. As for the relief measures, they take two forms—first of all, the immediate cover provided by tents and marquees, and then matters of reconstruction and more permanent housing. I have despatched the Colonial Office adviser on housing to Cyprus to advise on the matter.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

While associating my hon. Friends with the sympathy expressed by the Secretary of State and assuring him of our fullest support in the most generous action he can take in reconstruction, may I ask whether he has information as to whether Cyprus has suffered further heavy earthquake shocks in the last few days as the Ionian Isles did?

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

I know of no such reports of any serious earthquake.

Photo of Colonel Sir Alan Gomme-Duncan Colonel Sir Alan Gomme-Duncan , Perth and East Perthshire

Is my right hon. Friend aware, as I am sure he is, that speed is the essence of these relief operations—quite apart from the housing aspect, which is a long-term matter—and may I be assured that there will be no delay in the more urgent matters of food and clothing?

Photo of Mr Oliver Lyttelton Mr Oliver Lyttelton , Aldershot

I think the action over the immediate relief was very quick and very efficient. We are now passing to another stage, which is that of more permanent reconstruction.

Following is the statement:The first and severest shock in the Cyprus earthquake occurred at 6 a.m. on the morning of 10th September. There have since been a number of further shocks of varying intensity. Damage and casualties were almost exclusively confined to the Paphos district. Forty people lost their lives, 100 had to be taken to hospital where 27 had to remain for treatment, and 16 are still receiving treatment. Many people received minor injuries. The casualties would undoubtedly have been worse but for the fact that most of the people were in their fields.The Cyprus Government, with the great assistance of the Armed Forces, speedily set relief measures on foot. Over 4,000 tents, largely from Service stocks, were quickly distributed and 500 of these were flown out from the United Kingdom by the Royal Air Force in an airlift which began on 13th September. Many others were brought from the Suez Canal Zone by ships of the Royal Navy.Detachments from the Army and the other Services erected the tents and made themselves helpful in many ways. Altogether 6,342 tents and marquees have been distributed and a further 1,140 are expected. The British Red Cross offered immediate assistance and have supplied large quantities of blankets and clothing. The needs of families affected by the earthquake have been assessed by the Cyprus Welfare Department, and assistance is being given to those who require it.A relief fund has been opened and contributions are still being received in Cyprus. Broadcast and other appeals in the United Kingdom have resulted in contributions totalling over£10,000 reaching the Cyprus Government Office in London.Material damage was heavy. Approximately 2,000 houses were demolished or irreparably damaged, 5,000 more were seriously damaged, and a further 5,000 require repairs of some sort or another. One hundred and ten villages were affected and in five of these 90 per cent. or more of the houses were destroyed; the towns of Ktima and Old Paphos also suffered seriously. The homes of 33,000 people are destroyed, unsafe or damaged. Taking into account both private houses and public buildings it is estimated that over£2,000,000 of damage has been done.The Cyprus Government have announced a scheme for the rapid provision of prefabricated frameworks on which replacements of destroyed houses can be built; the scheme also provides for assistance in repairing damaged property. The measures taken should ensure the provision of temporary cover for all families without habitable houses.