Pakistani Earthquake Survivors
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BILL NEELY: Amid the beauty of the Himalayas a brutal battle has begun. From above, the powder snow and the slopes look inviting. But that’s a deadly deception. Tens of thousands cling to life here on icy, shaking ground.
Into a frozen valley comes the first help these people have had in ten weeks, and they need it. They live in a climate that kills. They come running. They have been trapped here by aftershocks, landslides and snow. Their food is running out and they are cold — very cold. It’s minus ten.
They huddle together, and no wonder. One wears socks outside flimsy shoes. Another has plastic bags to keep his feet warm, and until now they have been abandoned.
This first flight brings enough food to re-supply 1,500 grateful people in the valley. Their isolation up here has never threatened these people’s survival until now. It’s safe to say though that without this food drop, they would die.
When the U.N. warned of a second wave of death after the earthquake, it was places like this and people like these they had in mind.
“Our children are suffering,” they say, “they are getting sick with coughs and pneumonia.”
All the children? “Yes, all of them.”
But many here are suspicious of outside help. They are independent and proud, and they won’t leave their valley for the camps below.
To do that they would have to leave their guns, leave their animals to die, and live in tents. But when the helicopter left today, a few escaped with it. Ten-year-old Zahir was terrified. He has never been out of his valley before.
The men had rarely seen a helicopter, never mind been in one. They were bewildered but had felt so weakened at home they had to get out. When they did, they had no idea where they were or where to go. So they just took off across the fields.
In other valleys the mission is the same– dozens of helicopter offloading food, saving lives. But there are places the helicopters don’t go. We drove up 8,000 feet across landslides and ice to reach the town the mercy missions and the aid workers forgot.
Ten weeks ago, 7,000 people were shaken when the earthquake hit Narang. There are only 170 left. And we were the first outsiders they had seen in five weeks.
“We have been forgotten,” they told me, “abandoned, and we are hungry.”
BILL NEELY: No food.
MAN: No food.
BILL NEELY: From the government.
MAN: No food, no food.
BILL NEELY: And here, too, they are shivering in the freezing cold. Children are suffering with chest infections. There are no doctors left, no help.
But there are hundreds of places like this, all but abandoned, the people left, trapped for the winter. Amid the aftershocks on the roof of the world, they are braced for their worst winter. They have always lived on the edge, but never like this, so dependent on help, on the outside, on luck.