Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Days In Diseaster (Earthquake 2005)

Assalam O Alikum Friends,

Here is a short introduction of our beloved friend Syed Adnan Ali Naqvi. The massive earthquake - 2005 (in Pakistan) change his life and he is doing social work by himself for the victims of Earthquake, War on terror since long.

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After burying his brother and sister who were killed by the earthquake in Pakistan, Syed Adnan Ali Naqvi left home to help the relief effort in the remotest parts of Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

He sent this account of his experiences to BBC Urdu.com and has been sending regular updates to the website ever since then.


This earthquake has changed my life. I had three sisters and two brothers but now I am left with two sisters and no brother.

On October 8 I was at my office in Karachi when my mother called me and said a very strong earthquake had hit Islamabad, northern Pakistan and Kashmir.

That evening, we went to Islamabad and straight to Margala Towers to look for my sister. It was complete mayhem. We were told that our best hope was to contact the local hospitals.

Margala Towers
Adnan’s sister died when Margala Towers collapsed in Islamabad

Our worst nightmare came true in the hospital mortuary. My mother and I spotted my sister’s locket around the neck of a dead woman. Her face was disfigured beyond recognition.

When my sister’s body was unearthed from the debris, a young child was found holding on to her. This was my 11-month-old nephew who also died but, unlike his mother, his face was unhurt. We recognised him immediately.

By then we had heard nothing from my brother who had gone to Balakot. I rushed there myself.

For the second time in 24 hours, my worst nightmare became a reality. A young man had rescued two bodies from a destroyed car.

My brother had died.

Return to Kashmir

I returned to Kashmir with a relief team.

What I have learned is that my personal loss and grief is nothing to what these people are going through.

My personal loss and grief is nothing to what these people are going through

In the small hours of 23 October we reached Naran. We saw people taking refuge in makeshift tents. Dozens of people were so badly injured that it would have been criminal not to stay and give them treatment.

In Jhelum Valley things were really bad. The doctors in our team told us that at least 17 children needed immediate treatment. But how could we take 17 kids back to Muzaffarabad? We had only just arrived on mules after hours of a very arduous journey.

Mahrukh and her ‘lala’

In the group, there was a young girl called Mahrukh. Her father, mother and sister died. She was left with her brother, whom she lovingly referred to as “my lala” (my dear brother).

Children in Muzaffarabad
At least 17,000 children died in the earthquake according to Unicef

Her lala was running a very high fever so we decided to take him and 16 other children back with us to Muzaffarabad on the mules. When she saw that we were taking him with us, Mahrukh said to me, “Adnan, this is all I have, please make sure my lala gets well”.

The journey was tiring and it rained. Children were getting sicker. Our doctors said they needed to be hospitalised.

But there is a huge gap between what we want and what we have.

The one thing we did not have any control over turned out to be the lives of the children we had taken with us. Seven died either on the way or after reaching the medical camp in Muzaffarabad.

Mahrukh’s lala was among those who did not survive.

I was really depressed, I didn’t know how I could face Marukh. I failed to save what she said was the only thing she had.

We came here to save lives but we’ve ended up giving back dead bodies to people who had little anyway.

Unbearable cold

People from all over the world have contacted me after reading my diary and they have been asking me how to help. I tell them only one thing: get here as soon as you can because the clock of death in this region is clicking fast.

This is everyone’s moment to save humanity.

It’s getting unbearably cold here in tents in Muzaffarabad. We don’t have enough warm clothes for the team.

We came here to save lives but we’ve ended up giving back dead bodies

Mahrukh, whom I had started calling Farhana (the name of my sister who died in Islamabad), developed a very high temperature.

I received an urgent call from a doctor on our team who said Mahrukh’s condition was deteriorating fast. We rushed to the hospital.

But now, Mahrukh, that beautiful young girl, is not with us.

Another life is no longer.