God help our poor families

    Wednesday, October 12th 2005
    This Asian News

    DOZENS of Oldham residents have been flying out to earthquake-hit Pakistan this week in a bid to help with ongoing rescue efforts.

    Many of the towns Pakistani families hail from the areas where most devastation was caused by Saturdays quake measuring a horrifying 7.6 on the Richter scale.

    At least 40,000 people are believed to have died and the figure is constantly changing, with fears that it will go higher before the week is out.

    Heartbroken Mohammed Iqbal, of Wellington Road, Coppice, and his wife Musrat Rafiq, managed to fly out to the region on Monday.

    The couple have lost a staggering 80 to 90 relatives, who include Mohammeds younger sister, numerous aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces andcousins, as well as friends.

    Oldhamer Sarfraz Shah, 35, was left shattered this week after being told that as many as 20 members of his family, including uncles, aunts and cousins had been killed in Muzaffarabad.

    He said: I'm devastated. A few phone lines are working and Ive learned large numbers of my extended family have been wiped out.

    Syed Rashad Bukhari, of Manley Road, has lost around a dozen members of his immediate family and many more are still missing in the rubble.

    He said: I've been told the smell of dead bodies is spreading and infection is expected. The government is trying to move people away but the problem is that no relief or foreign aid is getting to the area.

    The government and international agencies need food, medicines and supplies. Only one camp for the injured and refugees has been set up. I am concerned that relief isnt getting to where it is needed the most.

    But one Oldham mosque is attempting to overcome this by sending their own representative to North West Pakistan to see where their money is being spent through international charity Ummah Welfare Trust.

    Mohammed Idrees, of Werneth Jamia Mosque, on Manchester Road, travelled to Pakistan on Sunday with 3,000 the congregation raised on hearing of the disaster.

    Imam Shams-ur-Rahman, who has also lost family members, said: Ramadan reminds us to do the right things. Our hunger reminds us of the poor. It reminds us we should feed, cloth and help them.

    As he was talking to the Advertiser the mosque received a phonecall from Mohammed Idrees who said, contrary to figures released as we went to press, he believed up to 42,000 bodies had been recovered in the Hazera area alone, with a further 100,000 dead in Kashmir. He named a number of villages that had been flattened.

    Hundreds of local families can only pray that the report is not true.
    Original article can be viewed at: http://www.theasiannews.co.uk