Devastation in Pakistan
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RAY SUAREZ: In Pakistan, time is running out for rescue teams hoping to find people alive in the rubble of the devastating earthquake. We have three reports from Independent Television News, beginning with an overview from Jon Snow who flew over the shattered region today. A warning: Some of the pictures are disturbing.
JON SNOW: An hour’s flight out of the capital, over the mountainous evidence of previous upheaval, the first sign of earthquake, deep scarring in the mountain sides — new fissures, new rock falls — and then the grim flatness of Balakot, roofs flattened, people still evident amongst the wreckage. White tents on the river’s edge, a small tented encampment in a football field.
The earthquake smashed the mountain road that divides Balakot’s wreckage from that of Pakistan’s Kashmiri capital, Muzaffarabad, and it’s here that we landed.
In the war with India, over Kashmir, this had been Pakistan’s military headquarters, flattened now without the aid of bombs. No amount of camouflage would ever have made any difference this time. So militarized was this area that many of the victims are military, young soldiers caught in their barracks at 8:15 on Saturday morning — only brought out today.
Each helicopter disgorges still more wounded. They’re carried on anything that will bear them. Most of them were only found today — their number but a pinprick in the number that need treating — that treatment unutterably distressing, small children with crushing and bruising injuries treated in a clinic with no water, no antiseptic, no anesthetic, no painkillers of any kind. This child screams as doctors feel his broken legs. (Screaming) There is little beyond human contact and care to reduce the suffering.
Outside with rain beginning to fall, the Nafta family call out to us to shelter in what remains of their house, a family of 13, all but one wall is down. The stove is alight amongst the bricks. They tell me that they are at least all alive. Their perishable possessions are stacked on the bed.
Even as I’m talking to the daughters, the rain is turning to hail. Stones the size of marbles and the road outside has become a river. Suddenly water starts to cascade through what once was the wall on to the floor. We desperately try to lift everything on to the bed — even trying to lift the bed itself.
This family that has survived the quake is now flooded out of all that remains.
RAY SUAREZ: The bad weather complicated the search for survivors throughout the region. Bill Neely is in the almost totally destroyed town of Balakot.
BILL NEELY: From what’s left of a town that looks like a graveyard, they are running away — the mothers who have no children left and who have only themselves now for comfort. The generation they gave birth to is gone. But who could blame them for running away from this, a crushed little boy.
In the ruins of Balakot’s school they break through the collapsed floors. But what they bring out is a sight beyond sadness. It’s a little girl, in a green dress — all broken. She and nearly 200 other boys and girls have already been pulled out and lifted away — their bags and books useless now. And then, the work begins again.
And the work has paid off. A French rescue team using cameras to probe deep down into the schools saw a face, three and a half days after he was trapped in his classroom, a scared little boy. He’s about 15 feet down; now it’s critical the roof doesn’t collapse. Slowly, astonishingly, the boy’s limp body is pulled from the hole and handed to his father. No one could quite believe it. Four other children were rescued like this. Four-year-old Fraz was too bewildered to eat or drink. Out of 400 children, he is one of the very few who survived.
The conditions here for rescuing anyone are getting worse. They think there are still the bodies of 150 children in this school. The last two little girls they pulled out alive — that was 18 hours ago. And even that seems amazing. But the weather is getting much worse now.
The rain lashed down on the bodies of children who had not yet been claimed by their parents — perhaps because their parents too are gone.
RAY SUAREZ: Just north of Balakot is the town hit hardest by the earthquake, Muzaffarabad. It’s in the Pakistani-controlled part of Kashmir. John Irvine is there.
JOHN IRVINE: This is no picnic, for here is where the family are living and the Pepsi parasol is their only shelter. A park with its bird cage and its children’s playground has become a refuge for hundreds, the homeless, the grieving, and the injured. This shocked girl spent hours with friends dying around her before she was rescued from the rubble of their school.
For days all they’ve had is each other but at least aid is arriving. This man was distributing a private donation. Desperation can be ugly.
Large lorry loads of food, water and clothing have made it through and every handout is mobbed. This is a pretty frantic rush for food and that’s understandable. Most of these people have had nothing to eat for the last three days. The army is struggling to maintain any kind of control here.
In the citycenter, these men were trying to recover the body of a government worker. Looking on was his son. Into his third day of waiting, Anwer told me that while it was his duty to be here, he was worried about the rest of the family. So we agreed to take him to them. They live on one of the high mountains that surround Muzaffarabad. It’s a difficult road, a ten mile climb. Here too death and damage was extensive. But right now these survivors are the truly forgotten people of the quake.
ANWER CHANDHARY: This is my sister. She is asking about my father.
JOHN IRVINE: Anwer then told her the dreadful news that their father was dead. As we walked on to the collapsed house, Anwer explained that when the earthquake happened he was in Islamabad. He got here as quickly as he could, only to find family members trapped in the debris.
ANWER CHANDHARY: When I reached here — so my mother was here and my young brother was here. I bring them out — I brought them out.
JOHN IRVINE: How many hours were they trapped here?
ANWER CHANDHARY: About 12 hours, you can see, 12 hours.
JOHN IRVINE: His mother said the rescue made her feel born again. After all she’s been through, he hasn’t the heart to tell her she’s a widow. The family are now living in terrible conditions. They have only a little corn to eat. They will have to endure this existence in all weathers.