Sunday, October 09, 2005

Asian Earthquake Overwhelms Pakistan and Staff

A World Vision staff member weeping on the telephone as he described what he had seen Sunday leading an assessment team in Pakistan's devastated northern frontier district summed up the human side of a natural disaster believed to be the worst earthquake in the region in a century... overwhelming.

"So many children are missing. Parents are in shock as they do not know whether they survived after the quake hit. This is so extremely painful, I just cannot describe it by words," said Igaz Ahmed, the assessment team leader.

Pakistan's president echoed the assessment as he told the world the same day that his country simply cannot deal with the death and damage on its own: "It is such a horrendous situation that one cannot imagine. Casualties are increasing by the hour," Pervez Musharraf told the BBC.

The dead in Pakistan now number more than 19,000 with another 42,000 injured. All the time rescue teams work against the clock trying to dig out survivors from beneath mazes of concrete, steel reinforcement and stones. Entire villages have been destroyed, several apartment complexes toppled and in the remote north a school collapsed killing 400 children. But the greatest need is for the living, said Sig Hanson, national director of World Vision Pakistan.

"There are nearly 700,000 survivors, almost all who have lost loved ones and many of them living without shelter or clean drinking water. "This emergency is bigger than any of us expected," said Hanson. "This is getting everyone of my team members here deep in their hearts." Goods purchased by World Vision for US $150,000 will region northern communities by noon Monday, promised Hanson.

This includes 1,000 tents, 1,000 quilts, 2,000 burial cloths and 1,000 water containers. A second purchase order for $350,000 in goods will be executed Monday with the aim of having the items to communities by that evening. Other purchases will most likely will include hygiene and household medical kits, hand tools and food and water supplies. Child Friendly Spaces will also be established. At least 550 are dead in Indian-administered Kashmir. The death toll jumped from nearly 300 when 258 bodies were discovered in one town alone. Sadly, hundreds more are feared trapped and dying in their homes which were buried under landslides triggered by the quake.

Source: AlertNet
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