October 13, 2005

"A putrid, enraged, aggrieved place."

Unbearably sad descriptions of the suffering after the earthquake. A million people are homeless, cold, and hungry. Many persons with broken bones and other serious injuries are stranded in places far from the hope of medical care.
Journeying for miles on foot, desperate survivors from high-altitude villages streamed into major towns where Pakistani, American, Afghan and United Nations helicopters landed on makeshift helipads to evacuate the injured. All told, there were 40 helicopters on duty Wednesday, but with more than 52,000 injured, they appeared to come nowhere near meeting the need for evacuations....

A man named Jahanzeb said he had walked for a whole day to reach Balakot from Sangar; at least 50 people, he said, were badly injured there and unable to travel. He knew of four who had died of their injuries, after being pulled from the rubble. The villagers built a makeshift helicopter pad on Monday, he said, but the army had not yet arrived.

Jehangir Khan, an old man with a white beard, said he had carried his injured daughter, Saira, down from their village, Bhumara, on a stretcher and waited three days to get her on a helicopter. On Wednesday, Saira, a slight girl of perhaps 15 - she did not know her age - lay on a stretcher under cotton quilts. Her leg was broken, she was bleeding and she felt pain in her abdomen, she said. By day's end, she was loaded onto an American Chinook helicopter along with 28 of the most seriously wounded here. Her brother, also injured, was not allowed on. Her sister, Zaheda, had died in the quake.


Goesh said...

Flood, famine, war, hurricane, earthquake, volcano, mudslide, tornado, plague, locusts, tsunami. It's a hell of a life. I once knew a farmer named Clarence, up where I was born and raised, who collected newspaper clippings of train wrecks. Was I too polite to have never asked him why he did this? After all these years I am still bothered by never knowing why, and never knowing if he would have even answered my question, had I asked it. Was it to remind himself, because he was deeply religious, that there was a God? Did Clarence have a secret love of trains and these wrecks were a reminder of his hard existence as a dirt farmer, that nothing can ever be all fun and wonderful? I have wondered too, since he was hen-pecked by his wife, if maybe he drug out the clippings to remind himself that things could be worse, or maybe he secretly envisioned her being on one of those trains. Our minds go to odd ends when confronted, in a removed sense of the word, with natural disasters. It is much easier to cluck our tongues when a monster takes an axe to his family and neighbors. How do we cluck our tongues, really, at an earthquake, a primal force totally beyond our control? It's not as easy to blame an earthquake as it is a person. Therapy or a pistol can always solve the monster problem you know. How quickly does the thought of the bird flu and price of gas enter our minds upon viewing the hapless Pakistanis? We have many unanswered questions about ourselves and our relationship to things beyond our control.Clarence, being a practical man, maybe allowed himself one and only one form of human tragedy.

Charles said...

It's bad there, worse since there is little in the way of support to start with. But I saw the anti-US recriminations have already started. The US isn't doing enough, fast enough, well enough. Hey, what about your country? And what about packing, loading, and flight time to get there? Otherwise you need the US stationed permanently in your country. Just not enough of the World's 911 Country to go around.

aidan maconachy said...

Heart breaking indeed.

There was a photo in the Toronto Star today of two kids with head injuries, sitting out in the middle of some god awful desolate wasteland. The expressions on their young faces was so poignant, it brought tears to me eyes.

I hope the governments of the U.S. and Canada do all in their power to aid these people. Sometimes politics has nothing to do with it. That time is now.