Rush to Aid Quake Victims

    Monday, October 10th 2005
    This is Bradford

    A massive fundraising effort is underway in Bradford to help the tens of thousands of victims of the devastating earthquake in South Asia.
    Between 20,000 and 30,000 people are thought to have died in the disaster in Kashmir and northern Pakistan and more than 40,000 are believed to have been injured.
    One Bradford charity has already pledged £200,000 to help the relief effort, and collections have been held in mosques across the city over the weekend.

    Muslim and Sikh community leaders have vowed to work together to fundraise and to support Bradford families still anxiously waiting for news of relatives in the disaster zone.
    The earthquake, which measured 7.6 on the Richter scale, centred on the disputed territory of Kashmir and on northern Pakistan but was felt as far away as the Afghan capital, Kabul, and India's capital, Delhi.

    Yesterday, Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf appealed for help from the international community to tackle the aftermath of the quake - believed to be the strongest to hit the region in a century.

    Bradford charity Amanat, which carries out emergency relief work in Pakistan and Afghanistan, has pledged £200,000 from its reserve pot.

    The charity, based in White Abbey Road, already has teams on the ground in the disaster zone who are working to set up medical and homeless camps and distribute food and water.
    Trustee Iqbal Rawat said the charity had initially pledged to send £100,000 to the disaster-hit area but after assessing the damage they have now decided to double that figure.
    Mr Rawat said: 'We have been speaking to our representatives in Islamabad and the situation is far more serious than we initially thought.

    'Our main priority is to organise the emergency effort and react quickly. The next step is to set up an appeal to raise funds. We urge people to give whatever they can.'
    Rashid Awan, the president of the Pakistani society of West Yorkshire said families in the city were now facing an anxious wait to hear news of their relatives.
    He said: 'This is a tragic situation but we do not yet know the full impact and we haven't got a clear picture of what has happened.

    'The people of West Yorkshire and particularly Bradford will obviously want to organise fund-raising and the Pakistani Society of West Yorkshire will be involved in that.'
    Bradford has morethan 70,000 people of Pakistani-origin living in the district, many of them are still anxiously trying to find out what has happened to family and loved ones in the area.

    Zafir Tanweer, from Denholme, has been waiting by the telephone to hear news from his relatives living in the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, Muzaffarabad - the city closest to earthquake's epicentre.

    He said: 'We have spoken to several of my relatives, some of them are fine but my cousin has died.

    'We do not know where my other cousin is, she has her three children with her. I am trying to get hold of various people but there's no news.' The Kashmir Charitable Trust is urging members of the Kashmiri population living in Bradford to do all they can to ensure that aid reaches those living in the region.

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