- The Washington Times - Monday, October 17, 2005

KANUR, Pakistan — Aid workers warned yesterday that exposure and infection could trigger a second wave of deaths if thousands of injured and hungry quake victims across the stricken Himalayas are not reached soon.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said more than 80,000 people were injured in the Oct. 8 earthquake, and relief officials said many people who were seriously hurt by falling debris remain cut off in the isolated mountains of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, where most of the destruction occurred.

“It’s the injured who most urgently need help,” said Bill Berger, leader of the USAID disaster assistance response team.

Still, there were incredible stories of survival, like that of 8-year-old Abdul Jabbar, who was spotted by a Pakistani helicopter amid the rubble of his aunt’s house in the village of Jarid. He had been visiting his aunt and her family, all of whom were killed.

He was picked up by the military and flown to safety in his home village of Haripur, where he was reunited with his family.

Helicopters resumed flying relief missions yesterday after heavy rain over the weekend forced the suspension of most flights.

An estimated 54,000 people died in the quake, and the toll is expected to rise. Several million people need food and shelter before winter arrives. The Pakistani military, civilian volunteers and international aid groups are bringing aid and doctors to the region as fast as the logistical challenges allow. Landslides caused by the earthquake cut off many roads, which will take several weeks to clear.

In the village of Kanur, survivors standing in the rubble of their homes waved colored clothes to attract the attention of a Pakistani military helicopter flying through the mountains, then begged its crew to take injured villagers on board.

“Please take my daughter. Please take my daughter,” said Tanvir Hussain, who lost two sons, two daughters and his wife in the disaster. His remaining daughter, 6-year-old Razila, suffered two broken legs.

Razila, sobbing in pain, was among six seriously hurt girls and women who boarded the helicopter and were taken to a makeshift hospital in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan’s part of Kashmir. About 30 other seriously injured people were left behind. It was the first time a relief flight had reached Kanur, 38 miles north of Muzaffarabad.

Maj. Gen. Farooq Ahmed Khan, Pakistan’s top relief official, said 33,000 tents and 130,000 blankets have been distributed to quake survivors. He said 260,000 tents and 2 million blankets were needed.

“There are serious patients with infected wounds and gangrene,” said Sebastian Nowak of the International Committee of the Red Cross, after a team of doctors landed in Chekar, 40 miles east of Muzaffarabad.

Mr. Nowak said about 200 people in Chekar had not received medical help since the 7.6-magnitude quake, and a Red Cross relief flight had to turn back over the weekend because villagers were fighting over supplies.

Rain and snow hampered relief operations in parts of India-controlled Kashmir yesterday, cutting off roads to the severely hit Uri and Tangdhar regions.



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