Slow Recovery in Pakistan
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JOHN IRVINE: Most of them have traveled a long way to be in this position — on the point of catching a mercy flight out of this desperate place. Five days on and the influx of wound is unremitting. These people have walked miles from outlying villages to reach Muzaffarabad’s main first aid station and helipad.
A high proportion of the injured being brought in here are children because, of course, Saturday was a school day and the classrooms were packed when many school buildings were brought crashing down by the quake.
Ten-year-old Nadia is still in her school uniform. She was freed from the rubble yesterday and brought here by her uncle. His wife and his own children are dead.
This little girl is blind. She sustained a broken leg when her house collapsed. It’s taken her parents four days to get her here. All the children we’ve shown were on a flight out of here courtesy of the U.S. Army. In this one helicopter, they managed to take 50 patients to receive the treatment they need in hospitals in Islamabad.
Patients who don’t warrant being medivaced are allowed to go home or at least what passes for home these days. Camps like this are springing up all over the city and conditions are wretched. Inside every makeshift home, there is anguish and grief. This woman lost her husband and one of her children. She said she had no idea what she’s going to do.
JIM LEHRER: In some remote villages, aid is just now reaching earthquake victims. Bill Neely is in the hills above the town of Balakot.
BILL NEELY: They call this place the roof of the world, but on their mountains now, the beauty is terrible and the dead children are everywhere. They’re tough people, but they’ve never been tested like this. The death toll is climbing towards 40,000 as one by one the remotest towns and villages report their loss.
We took the often-hazardous road towards China today to hear their story. What you hear is the sound of hunger and need. The charity workers can barely cope with the crush. Along the road, aid is tossed from a lorry to villagers who’ve had none for five days.
This is battle and it’s scarred for life. A village that’s lost half its children and most of its homes, and from its government, it’s received nothing.
MAN: They just make some promises with us, we are sending this thing, this thing to you, but so far there’s nothing.
BILL NEELY: And on to where roads have been washed into rivers and where trees but not towns still cling to the hills, and here, too, hunger. They struggle for a bag of rice. Their government says a million people in Pakistan are in acute need, but no one from any government agency has come here.
Most roads are passable, though the land has slipped everywhere and carried most of Helkat away in an earthquake its people call a monster.
MAN: A natural monster — earthquake — came and destroyed the whole thing. The people who are living around — the people of this area are so poor.
BILL NEELY: And much poorer now. This man has lost his whole family. There are no aid agencies here, no food distribution, no medical teams from their government to treat the injured.
And wherever you look, the injured and the dead are being taken down the hills for help. They are bruised and crushed and broken. In this field we found around a dozen children, the bandages basic, the work of a worried medical student.
MEDICAL STUDENT: Some people had amputated ears, amputated legs, amputated their hand, and this — and severe tauma of the chest — in this condition they were coming here.
BILL NEELY: And the people feel betrayed; the worst earthquake in their memory and in the country’s history, and apart from a little local charity, they’ve been left hungry, homeless and winter is setting in.
JIM LEHRER: Our third earthquake survivor story is a personal one. It comes from Mark Austin in Islamabad.
MARK AUSTIN: For four days Uzman Nasir, the ITV News translator in Islamabad has been praying that two close family friends, the woman he calls auntie and her mother will be pulled out alive. He’d given up hope when yesterday this happened. From the rubble, calls for quiet: A woman’s voice has been heard from deep below. The British search and rescue team get to work and 16 hours later, miraculously, two women are brought out alive. They are Uzman’s auntie and her mother.
This morning in the local hospital here, there was a reunion neither could have thought possible and from auntie, an extraordinary story. She said she told her rescuers she only wanted to be pulled out of the rubble if her children and grandchildren had survived. Thankfully, they had. They were there at the hospital today.
KHALIDA TARIQ: Then he told me that your children are alive and they are safe and sound, so then my happiness came to me and I felt that I should come out.
MARK AUSTIN: After the building collapsed, she spent hours clearing bricks and boulders from on top of her mother. When after three days no help came, she gave her the last rites.
MARK AUSTIN: You thought she was going to die?
KHALIDA TARIQ: Yes, because I was smelling the blood and I was very worried because I thought that she would not survive.
MARK AUSTIN: Then after 80 hours came their rescue at the hands of the British team.
KHALIDA TARIQ: They are very good people, and God bless them. Thank you.
MARK AUSTIN: Good people who this afternoon were taken by Uzman to see his auntie.
JOHN HOLLAND, Rapid UK: We’re so pleased you’re making good recovery.
KHALIDA TARIQ: You are blessed people I think.
JOHN HOLLAND: We knew we would get you out
KHALIDA TARIQ: Yes, because you said that and you are experts so I thought that they are experts –
JOHN HOLLAND: I don’t know about that. I have to point out that you said that because we’re not experts.
MARK AUSTIN: What do you think of these men?
KHALIDA TARIQ: I felt that God has sent them for us, especially for us.
JOHN HOLLAND: It’s the first time we’ve had this. It’s quite emotional actually. To think somebody’s been buried in that building for three and a half days, and it’s taken us, what, 16 hours — the team 16 hours to get the two of them out, and then you can come the next day to see them; it’s extraordinary really.