Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Pakistani quake 500,000 await AID

I'm regretful that I haven't posted anything thus far on the Pakistani Quake.
Sometimes it's hard for the human mind to find the words. Under a 1,000
fatalities for Hurricane Katrina yet nearly the worst US disaster in history
and this one may reach 50,000 fatalities? FIFTY THOUSAND? One
reporter landed in helicopter and was mobbed by residents looking for food,
water or medical supplies. He said on camera "It got me thinking about what
we do and that perhaps, I should've brought water with me" Gee, ya think?
Your just NOW thinking that? You pack your camera, your equipment, all
that gear and heading in to cover a devastated region STILL awaiting AID
and it doesn't hit you until you are mobbed by sobbing Pakistanis? Wow.
So many people asleep literally. Perhaps because it's just too hard sometimes
to take in. Suffering everywhere you look these days in our country and in
places a world apart from us. Life is so beautiful it hurts sometimes. Just
everyday things and words and just life. And life is so sad sometimes it is also
hard to think about. Too easy to just "tune it out" I know it sounds corny but
I honestly would find immense joy in winning the 350+ million dollar Powerball
jackpot and take my 125 lump sum not just to acquire "things" I can't think of
many "things" I would care about that much. I'd travel. And I'd love to have
that kind of money that I could put it in to action like Angelina Jolie and help
those who need it. THAT would be the definition of joy.

Half a million survivors of the south Asia earthquake have yet to receive relief supplies, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said today.
Hundreds of remote villages have yet to receive help and there are growing fears that with the onset of winter, exposure and infections could push the death toll from the October 8 earthquake well above the current total of 54,000, the WFP said.
The organization's executive director, James Morris, said the relief effort was one of the most challenging the world had ever faced.

"The aid agencies have managed to give some help to hundreds of thousands of people, but there are an estimated half a million more people out there in desperate need, who no one has managed to reach," he said from Dubai.
The slow response to the disaster in some areas has prompted anger towards the authorities involved.
Aid workers have had to cope with regular periods of bad weather and heavy rains at the weekend grounded many relief flights.
Pakistani and US military helicopters delivered aid today to Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, but the problem lies in getting supplies to surrounding areas, which are mountainous, remote and were close to the epicentre of the quake, which measured 7.6 on the Richter scale.
The delivery of aid on the ground has been restricted by landslides that have cut off many roads and are likely to take weeks to clear.
The UN said more than 80 helicopters were already involved in relief operations and a spokesman for the Pakistani army said the US military were expected to provide another 24 Chinook helicopters within the week.
The Pakistani army's chief spokesman, Major General Shaukat Sultan, said relief workers were expected to reach all affected villages in the next few days.
He said some soldiers were delivering aid on foot and carrying out injured people on their backs. Soldiers have also driven mule teams with relief supplies to some mountain villages.
The spokesman admitted, however, that even at the villages where some aid had managed to get through, not all the survivors had enough shelter.
Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, made a new appeal to the international community for tents, saying shelter was the main priority.
He made the appeal after travelling by helicopter to the Kashmiri town of Bagh, where he met injured victims of the earthquake.
"We gave all the tents that the army had. We bought all that were in Pakistan. Now we are looking abroad, in the international community," Gen Musharraf said.
The UN is planning to send up to 150,000 more tents, in addition to the 30,000 already distributed, a spokesman said, and field hospitals with operating theatres were being set up, improving the survival chances for those requiring urgent surgery.
But the large numbers of patients was still "overwhelming", he added.
Keith Ursel, Muzaffarabad operations head for the WFP, said thousands of lives were at stake.
"We need 570 tonnes of food every day to feed the affected people stranded in these villages," he said. "It is always a mixture of starvation, wounds or rough weather and fear which lead to massive deaths in such a situation."
The UN estimates that 3.3 million people have been left in need food and shelter as winter approaches, and snow is already falling in some areas. Some 80,000 people were injured in the quake.
Violence in India-controlled Kashmir continued today, with suspected Islamist militants killing the state's education minister during a raid on a high-security neighbourhood that also left at least three other people dead.
Soldiers continued to exchange gunfire with militants holed up at the home of the minister, Ghulam Nabi Lone, police said.
The attack came despite an order from the United Jihad Council, an umbrella organisation of militant groups, to suspend attacks after the quake, which killed at least 1,300 people died on the Indian side of the province.
India has provided some aid to Pakistan, but turned down a Pakistani suggestion that it send military helicopters - without crews - to help with relief work.
Pakistan, which has fought two of its three wars with India over Kashmir, said it could not have the Indian military involved directly in relief efforts.

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