when hope faded

I have just returned from Balakot and I am not sure if words can justify what I have seen in last two days. The reality on ground is very very different from what we see on television. The scale of death and destruction is unthinkable and it seems somebody has bulldozed the whole city. I know we have been hearing similar things from day one but seeing it with your own eyes is totally different. There is nothing but rubble, entire buildings have collapsed into the earth. I passed through Balakot on my way to Kaghan last year and the 4 storey hotel where I stayed has now simply disappeared. Owner of that hotel told me that quake took entire building into the river and nobody inside at that time survived.

Everyone there had a tragic story to tell. As we were looking at debris of a primary school a local, who lost his son, told us that there were 400 children in that school when it collapsed and only 45-50 died immediately. There were atleast 350 children alive, calling their parents for help and screamed for two days. Parents, friends, relatives and other local people tried their best to rescue them for two days. They used their hands and anything they could find but it was an impossible task to lift of break huge concrete blocks without proper equipment. Slowly the voices faded and then complete silence after two days.

It took help 2 days to reach them and on a third day when it did, it was too late. This is generally the case when you ask people about casualties in school and colleges. And we have been hearing similar stories from almost every quake affected area especially Muzaffarabad and Garhi Habibullah and Bagh. Some of the lucky(?) children who did survive, later discovered that their parents have died.

We were staying at a field hospital just outside Mansehra set up by a few doctors from Social Security Hospital, Lahore and majority of casualties there were of children and women. A woman told us that her husband along with her two daughters, a son and 7 other family members were trapped under the rubble. When earthquake came the ceiling of their house didn’t collapse completely. Somehow it stopped just 3-4 feet above the floor leaving a small pocket between ceiling and the floor and nobody got seriously hurt at that time. For hours and hours, she and her daughter, who survived, begged people running around to stop and help them but nobody did. She could see her family trapped inside through a 6 inch hole between ceiling and a wall but there was nothing she could do to save them. After almost 20 hours a few relatives came for help but by that time her daughters were dead already and again nobody had equipment to break the concrete ceiling. She said she saw her family dying one by one under the rubble for two days.

She kept on repeatig ‘koi nahi rukka (nobody stopped for help)’ and I couldn’t find courage to explain her that almost everyone had, somewhere in the city, their own loved ones calling for help.

1 Comment so far

  1. Zeeshan (unregistered) on October 17th, 2005 @ 11:08 am

    i can’t stop myself from asking this question. Is this some kind of punishment from God(Azaab)? Dont take me wrong but symptoms are there. What you guys think?



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