Press Relase: Thursday 13th October, 2005 (29 Assu, Samvat 537 Nanakshahi)
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Muzaffarabad, Pakistan—Thousands of survivors with crush injuries wait for treatment five days after the Asian earthquake left at least 40,000 dead and millions homeless. Whilst food and medicine have started to arrive, there are no operating facilities to cater for those who survived with crushing injuries and need to be operated on urgently.
"If they are not operated on in time, amputation will become necessary for which there are no facilities," said Dr Naim Niazi, a humanitarian relief co-ordinator who is assisting UNITED SIKHS to procure and mobilise emergency supplies on the Pakistan side.
"Two days after the earthquake you still could not see any army or doctor helping the survivors. The reason was because they were all dead," Dr Naim said. The soldiers were buried alive in their trenches and doctors had died working in the hospital which was destroyed in Muzffarabad, he said on his return of a tour of the affected areas.
"We are in frantic search for mobile operating theatres which we need to set up in at least the 6 towns of Bagh, Muzzafarabad, Rawalakot, Balakot, Manshera and Forward Kahota," said Jagdev Singh, the UNITED SIKHS coordinator for relief work in Pakistan. "I cannot forget the scenes in Acheh where I saw people die within 48 hours because gangrene had set in before medical aid arrived. I cannot see it happen again," said Singh who had led the UNITED SIKHS Tsunami team to Acheh.
"It is going to be an expensive affair to purchase these mobile theatre units. But its lives we are talking about. We will have to find the money for it," he said.
The hospitals of these towns have been destroyed. Each of these towns is at least a hundred kilometres apart and each has a couple of thousand injured survivors who are in need of surgery. A helicopter can only ferry 6-8 casualties at a time. "This means that it would take two thousand helicopter trips to get them into the nearest hospitals in Islamabad, before winter begins in ten days, he said.
Dr Naim has been told that these units may be available in Denmark, Sweden and Japan. UNITED SIKHS has sought the assistance of Surinder Lalwani whose family business is in the pharmaceutical industry. "I have put out word for the supply of these mobile theatres. We will have to move them to the affected areas quickly so that they can save lives," Mr Lalwani said.
Meanwhile on the Indian side, UNITED SIKHS GHANAIA Asian earthquake relief team leader, Bhai Esher Singh, will be joined by other team members today to survey the affected areas in Uri, Kupwara district and Tangdar.
"We will investigate the conditions of the survivors and make necessary arrangements for their food, medical treatment and housing. We will also assess the damage suffered by Gurdwaras in the region," said Bhai Esher Singh.
"We are particularly concerned about press reports yesterday that Sikh families in the village of Tribuni in Tangdhar have not received any official help," he said.
The UNITED SIKHS team will be accompanied by the president of Baramulla gurdwara, Janak Singh Sodhi, secretary and vice secretary of the Srinagar gurdwara, Bikram Singh and Gurmeet Singh, respectively.
The earthquake, which occurred on October 8, 2005, caused unprecedented damage to life and property in Northern parts of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. More than 40,000 are feared dead, thousands remain buried and millions have been made homeless.
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