Updated: Dec 25th, 2005
Relief International volunteers Panama and Ali set up one of the tents RI uses as medical clinics at the main Batagram tent camp.
Balakot, roughly in-between Mansehra and Muzzafarabad, was perhaps the hardest-hit large city in the earthquake. Though it's hard to see from this photograph, essentially 100% of the buildings in the city were destroyed. ACTED's headquarters are in a tent camp for NGO's in the city.
Translation: "Don't go to the bathroom in the open; Use a toilet", more or less.
Water and sanitation needs are huge in the affected areas, and though some assessments have been done in the Batagram district for this purpose, almost no actual work has been done. One relief worker said "It will be a victory if 5% of the needs are covered for the winter." This is the only such sign I have seen in Pakistan, and it's certainly not enough for the hundereds of thousands of tent camp residents that need the ability to drink, cook, and bathe through the winter.
About 100 feet from the UN tents in Batagram, in the next compound over, a storage tent went up in flames. Despite that location being probably the safest place in the entire district (plus the heads of the UN camp happen to be Danish firefighters who happened to be ready to respond the minute the fire started), nothing could be done to stop the tent from burning to the ground. A sobering reminder of the dangers that face the inhabitants of the large, dense tent camps as the winter temperatures and darkness inspire the use of heating and cooking stoves and candles.
Along the Karakorum Highway... signs of the earthquake are never far: this was likely hit by a falling boulder. Power poles in far worse shape than this are carrying power all through the valleys.
Routinely, landslides cover the mountain roads and the army machinery slowly but surely opens them again. Delays cause many headaches for logistics coordinators and the people waiting for the goods. The roads, already dangerous, become occasionally harrowing, bumpy adventures over barely-cleared mounds of loose dirt and rock. The drivers of these heavy vehicles, pushing around piles of unpredictable freshly-fallen earth, have a dangerous and difficult job indeed. This picture doesn't do it justice, believe me.
This truck was carrying cement the morning of the October 8th earthquake when it was destroyed in a landslide. The driver was killed. The vehicle remains as a ghastly sentinal on the side of the road.
What's left of a village perched on the top of a hill, along the KKH. Not sure if it's true, but it looks like a landslide took part of the village away on the left. Note the suspended car on a cable on the right side of the image; these cable chair lift systems are a pedestrian means of getting over the river below without walking all the way down and back up.
I'm told that a tradition among more rural peoples here is to tie colored cloth to a tree near the grave of a person who was believed to be particularly saintly. This collection was above one of the numerous tiny (pre-earthquake) graveyards one sees all over this area.
Photo: Philippe Richard
Famously, helicopters have been a crucial part of the relief work going on here. Helicopters can cross 2 or 3 hours driving-time distance in 15 minutes. Their high cost has limited the number that are working here.