Tomas Munita  /  AP
A girl wounded in the earthquake lies Monday in a bed at a field hospital in Balakot, Pakistan.
updated 10/17/2005 7:02:12 PM ET 2005-10-17T23:02:12

Aid workers warned Monday that exposure and infection could trigger a second wave of deaths if thousands of injured and hungry quake victims across the stricken Himalayas are not reached soon.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said more than 80,000 people were injured in the Oct. 8 earthquake, and relief officials say many people who were seriously hurt by falling debris remain cut off in the isolated mountains of Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, where most of the destruction happened.

“It’s the injured who most urgently need help,” said Bill Berger, leader of the USAID disaster assistance response team.

Still, there were incredible stories of survival, like that of 8-year-old Abdul Jabbar, who was spotted by a Pakistani helicopter amid the rubble of his aunt’s house in the village of Jarid. He had been visiting his aunt and her family, all of whom were killed, and it was unclear how he managed to survive so long on his own.

He was picked up by the military and flown to safety in his home village of Haripur, where he was reunited safely with his family.

Choppers flying again
Helicopters resumed flying relief missions Monday after heavy rains over the weekend forced the suspension of most flights.

An estimated 54,000 people died in the quake, and the death toll is expected to rise. Several million people need food and shelter ahead of the winter. The Pakistani military, civilian volunteers and international aid groups are rushing aid and doctors to the region, as fast as the logistical challenges allow. Landslides caused by the earthquake cut off many roads, which will take several weeks to clear.

In the village of Kanur, survivors standing in the rubble of their homes waved colored clothes to attract the attention of a Pakistani military helicopter flying through the mountains, then begged its crew to take injured villagers on board.

“Please take my daughter! Please take my daughter!” pleaded Tanvir Hussain, who lost two sons, two daughters and his wife in the disaster. His remaining daughter, 6-year-old Razila, suffered two broken legs.

Razila, sobbing in pain, was among six badly hurt girls and women who boarded the helicopter and were taken to a makeshift hospital in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan’s part of Kashmir. About 30 other seriously injured people were left behind.

It was the first time a relief flight had reached Kanur, 38 miles north of Muzaffarabad.

Makeshift helipad at Kel Garam
At the helicopter’s next stop, Kel Garam, a village where 250 died in the quake, villagers had fashioned a helipad in a clearing in hopes that a chopper would bring supplies. It landed near the mosque, whose walls had been cracked by the temblor.

“My wife is injured, my brother is killed, another of my brothers lost a leg and we are waiting for help,” said resident Sayed Wahab Shah.

Soldiers handed out blankets and food, but no tents — the most badly needed item in these hills. There was only room for one of the village’s 30 seriously injured people to catch the flight out.

Maj. Gen. Farooq Ahmed Khan, Pakistan’s top relief official, said 33,000 tents and 130,000 blankets have been distributed to quake survivors. He said 260,000 tents and 2 million blankets were needed.

“There are serious patients with infected wounds and gangrene,” said Sebastian Nowak of the International Committee of the Red Cross, after a team of doctors landed in Chekar, 40 miles east of Muzaffarabad.

Fighting over relief
Nowak said about 200 people in Chekar had not received medical help since the 7.6-magnitude quake, and a Red Cross relief flight had to turn back over the weekend because villagers were fighting over supplies.

“They had sticks and they were fighting for relief goods. There was no perimeter security and we felt threatened. There must be a perimeter security while helicopters land,” he said.

Torrential rain and snow hampered relief operations in parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir Monday, cutting off roads to the badly hit Uri and Tangdhar regions. Trucks loaded with relief supplies were stranded on mountain roads, and survivors huddled in rain-sodden tents and lit fires to keep warm.

Soldiers drove mule teams with relief supplies to some villages at the highest elevations.

Hope for aid after ‘TV cameras go away’
The local government of Pakistani-held Kashmir estimated that at least 40,000 people died there. Officials reported another 13,000 deaths in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province, and India said 1,360 people died in the part of divided Kashmir that it controls.

In Islamabad, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said she hoped the international community would help with long-term reconstruction after “the TV cameras go away and there is less talk of what is happening.”

On Monday, two U.S. Navy ships carrying heavy machinery and other earthquake relief equipment docked in the port of Karachi. Dozens of other countries have also contributed aid.

Pakistan has also received aid from India, its longtime rival and a foe in three wars since their independence in 1947. Pakistan said it would accept helicopters from India, but without pilots.

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