|This is a photo of a college that was destroyed by the earthquake. The earthquake struck right after school started and many students were killed.|
Some Blair students have a special connection to the earthquake that hit Pakistan in early October. A school close to the earthquake area has a subscription to Silver International and the two schools were planning to share student writing.
It was Saturday morning, Oct. 8 at 8:55 a.m. There was an earthquake which occurred north of Islamabad, Pakistan measuring of 7.4 on the Richter Scale. Even though it lasted only 55 seconds, the destruction was beyond belief.
This earthquake not only affected Pakistan but also affected India’s northern part Jammu, Kashmir and Afghanistan. But the major damage was in Muzaffarabad and Balakot, north of Islamabad. The earthquake turned almost all of the buildings, schools, houses and even hospitals in many towns and villages into dust.
Due to this gruesome tragedy, there were also a lot of people dead and buried under the rubble. Sumeera Wahid, the co-principal of Modernages Public School and College, a school that is about 35 miles from Muzaffarabad, a town that was nearly completely destroyed, shared information with Mr. Bellino, Blair’s ESOL Resource Teacher. “I have no words to describe the situation our country is facing at this moment,” she said. “Whole villages have been wiped out. The remains of a once happy and prosperous city are full of dead bodies and there is no one to bury them,” she said.
This event has separated thousands of people from their loved ones. Many children have separated from their parents. Thousands of bodies are all over without any identification because some even lost all of their immediate family members at once.
Every day, even weeks after the earthquake, the death toll is increasing.
“The estimates of 20,000 dead don’t seem to be correct. By what I hear it will go beyond one lakh [100,000],” Ms. Wahid said in a message a week after the quake hit. Now estimates are more than 79,000 dead and still rising. Ms. Wahid added that more than sixty villages have still not been accessed.
Getting to the disaster areas is very difficult because there are many mountains and the roads are destroyed. “Pakistan has just 24 helicopters which are highly insufficient to carry the relief operation,” Ms. Wahid said. “Still many areas remain where no aid has reached as yet.”
Unlike the tsunami where ships could get to devastated areas more easily, “here the only means is the helicopter and even the biggest ones cannot carry a lot,” Ms. Wahid added.
This event in Pakistan has brought sadness to Blair senior Muhammad Waqar and to his family in Islamabad. “My aunt and her son Amir Malik are dead. But by the grace to Allah my uncle Adnan Malik is alive but is in critical condition,” said Muhammad. See Muhammed’s personal story in this issue of Silver International.
Silver International staff members have been trying their best to collect donations for Pakistan under the leadership of Mr. Bellino who is the advisor for the Silver International. The staff members sold pizzas for at least two weeks and made a profit of $628. The Student Government Association has also been giving its support and a number of parents have sent contributions. But the project for donation collections is still on. Donations can be given to Blair’s financial assistant or left in the collection jar in the main office.
|These people are waiting for treatment outside a hospital. They were pulled from collapsed building by friends and relatives.||Hospitals in the earthquake damaged areas are overwhelmed with injured seeking treatment and have a hard getting equipment and supplies.|
|Dr. Javed Butt treating a small girl in a tent hospital.||A child is being treated for a serious head injury. Children have suffered the highest number of casualties.|
|Thousands of refugees are now living in tents trying to deal with the cold winter that is just beginning in the mountainous region of Pakistan.||A small boy outside a tent in one of the many tent cities.|