[zalzala] Fwd: QUAKE: Beena Sarwar report + Bay Area visitor

  • From: pakistan@xxxxxxxx
  • To: zalzala@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 08 Dec 2005 17:23:03 -0500

Begin forwarded message:

From: Sreenath Sreenivasan <ss221@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: December 8, 2005 10:05:22 AM EST
To: SAJA E-mail Discussion List <saja-disc@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: QUAKE: Beena Sarwar report + Bay Area visitor


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 8 Dec 2005 15:00:27 +0000 (GMT)
From: Beena Sarwar <bsarwar1@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Reply-To: beena-issues-owner@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
To: "beena-issues@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx" <beena-issues@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [beena] Quake situation: tent conditions; fire kills 7 survivors;
Adil's observations

Dear all

Dr Quratulain Bakhteari of IDSP (www.idsp.org) is
in the US till the end of Dec on a private family
visit; she would like to share her first hand
experience of the earthquake hit area where she
has been working; she also has a video of the
situation she can show. She has her grandson's
cellphone with her - 401-837-8778; will bein the
Bay area till Dec 20 then Providence, RI till the
end of the month. She has been visiting hospitals
and meeting with injured people in the tent
cities. She says most survivors are wearing the
same clothes they were in when the earthquake
hit; most have been unable to wash or bathe
(whatever water they have is freezing cold);
there's a dancer of scabies and other diseases
from that. Also of concern is the fact that they
are totally dependent on outside help now.

Yesterday, seven tent dwellers, including four
children, died when their tent caught fire
- the fire may have been caused by a candle, it
reported. There is no lighting facility in most
of the tents and the survivors are using candles
for light, aid workers say....
Last week a top UN official warned that 90% of
the 420,000 tents distributed to survivors are
not "winterized" and are not by themselves
adequate for the freezing Himalayan weather that
is already rolling into the area.
Aid agencies are warning that a lack of food and
shelter, combined with increasingly harsh winter
conditions, could cause a second wave of deaths
for victims of the October 8 earthquake.
Despite the government appeal to the survivors to
come down from the mountains, many are still
reluctant to leave cold mountainous areas.
Pakistani officials are urging countries to send
more winterized tents and corrugated iron sheets,
as reconstruction activities will begin after the
completion of a survey to determine what areas
are safe, probably in another few weeks.
...At least ten people are known to have died
from cold-related ailments such as pneumonia
since the onset of the brutal Himalayan winter,
and hundreds stream into hospitals every day.
Doctors say the situation could worsen in the
coming weeks if arrangements are not made quickly
to provide adequate shelters for the estimated
3.5 million people who lost their homes in the
7.6-magnitude quake.

This is a note from friend Adil Ahmed, who was in
the quake affected area Nov 12-18th. He flew from
Karachi to Islamabad, then drove to Muzaffarabad
and onwards to Garhee Do Patta “(because of the
river Jehlum cutting the valley into two pattas!
get it? - that's for real the reason for the
name...trust me to dig the inconsequential)”.
This is where the base camp in this sector is, of
the 10th Brigade from where all the relief effort
is being co-ordinated.

He says:

We were for most part in Chikar and beyond,
further up and away from Muzaffarabad (altitude
five thousand feet plus). The peaks are now
visibily covered in the distant mountains, but
the snow won't get into the areas where we were
for most part till third week December and
beyond. This is the valley area upto Chakoti and
smaller points beyond.

If it was not for the Brig. Sheryar and his men,
the doctors would have nobody taking them to
inaccessible areas.  The 10th Brigade assists
with airlifts by providing ground support and
logistics to the many choppers, and hospitality
at every camp to doctors and volunteers assisting
the doctors.

It's these camps that are holding surgical and
medical clinics in places where no doctor or
medicine has gone before.  It's these camps where
officers, like Col. Iftikhar in Chikar, another
hour up from Garhee Dopatta arranges proper sit
down dinners at the day's end to keep the doctors
and volunteers cheerful and involved in whatever
they can do.

To say that 95% of Jehlum Valley is covered by
these camps may not be exaggerating it by more
than a few single percentage points.  These camps
are centres providing up to four hundred tents a
day in areas where only the mule train is
bringing the tents.  At one such mule train
destination the heli-pad takes up most of the
space, and it's a miracle manning those camps and
also hosting the doctors and volunteers with
five-star hospitality.  The officers and jawans,
on the other hand, are roughing it like few would
believe.  Brig. Sheryar is in a camp where most
of his equals in Pakistan would not park their
cars.  The boys amongst officers and soldiers are
even more hard pressed.  But they continue taking
up four hundred tents on each mule train
accompanied by five men.  The men lead and follow
the animals as all animals are loaded.  It’s
alright for a mule, but these men are working
even harder to ensure they are distributed as
they come, and the doctors and co. are also taken
care of.

Hats off to 10th Brigade.

Having said that about the infrastructure of the
helpers, let’s talk about the valley and the
dwellers six weeks after the tragedy.

Most of the major panic is over.  The visitors to
these clinics in even far off areas need simple
surgical procedures or few day regimen of oral
medication.  The common reasons/complaints are
repeat visits for dressings or plaster cast
removals for surgical side to common ailments for
the medical side.  Accidents are still happening
with structures crashing as people try to
retrieve whatever they can.  But those are far
and few and the choppers are still carrying a few
dozen patients for more complete care to
Muzzafarabad or 'Pindi whenever the need be.  The
choppers are always there when needed by the
doctors courtesy the base camps.

But now we are in the "rehab" stage of the
effort.  The wounded from the quake have been
taken care of by either the rescuers or time.
There are few left unattended.  Obviously, many
died due to the chaos that must have prevailed.
People didn't have the opportunity to tend to
others as each household was too involved pulling
its own out to know of the outside.  It was only
when they came out to bury the dead that the
extent of the damage hit them.  Those alive are
people who have lived thru hell.  It is
impossible to ever fathom the psychological
impact of that moment, but suffice to say that
people are still petrified.  Grown men cry
talking to strangers, and mothers still wait
outside demolished school buildings in
Muzaffarabad to find some remains of their
child/children yet not recovered from the debris.
 The stench of rotting flesh is still a reality
after six weeks plus.  But the worst is over from
that tragedy will need all the caring we can
muster.  Mental health needs to be monitored to
keep track of the impact in months and years
ahead.  What the people in the affected areas
need now is psychological and emotional help to
overcome their fear, and start rebuilding their
lives again.

Here are a few poems I wrote upon return.  The
first is a 'poem', and the second, an


Pain, shrouded in beauty, kept me from
Hearing the cries echoing in the air.
But not for long…
Watching the moonlight bathe the peaks
The tranquility cried louder than all echoes.
The heart saw where the eyes were not looking
Imprinting images of pain for-ever
Surrounded by cries of those alive.



I had run out of candy day two, and half way.
The late comers heard my excuses, and missed out.
We gathered again the next day, as usual
Outside the clinics,
And the next , without candy, and it struck me:
There was no need to apologise for candy yet
The kids were returning to giggle and not for


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  • » [zalzala] Fwd: QUAKE: Beena Sarwar report + Bay Area visitor