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US Mosques, Churches Offer Prayers, Help for Quake Victims

Indian and Pakistani communities around the United States have joined the relief effort for victims of the massive earthquake north of Islamabad. Islamic and Christian organizations are offering prayers and collecting funds for the victims.

In the Los Angeles suburb of Artesia, known as Little India, people with relatives in the stricken region are closely monitoring news reports on television.

In South Los Angeles, worshippers attending daily services for Ramadan, a time of prayer and fasting, also turned their thoughts to the earthquake victims.

Many with relatives in the region have been unable to contact them. But immigrant Javed Iqbal reached his father in Pakistan, and was relieved to learn he is safe.

"He's about 76-years-old, and he said he has never seen something like this before," Mr. Iqbal says.

The Los Angeles-based organization, Islamic Relief, has launched a $10 million appeal for emergency assistance, and allocated $ 4 million for immediate relief work. Spokeswoman Clareen Menzes says the organization has centers operating in the stricken region.

"And they house about 100 full-time employees. So, we were already there, and we're on the scene doing a needs assessment," MS. Menzes says.

Spokesmen say Islamic Relief's healthcare center in the Neelum Valley in Kashmir has treated more than two-thousand victims of the earthquake.

The Washington-based Council on American Islamic Relations urged American Muslims Sunday to contribute to the relief effort.

U.S. Christian churches offered prayers for the victims during Sunday services. A worldwide group called Action by Churches Together is planning an emergency response in the stricken area, and Christian World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan is coordinating relief efforts through its offices in the region.

Catholic Relief Services is conducting a needs-assessment. A spokesman says he anticipates problems, however, delivering supplies to the mountainous areas of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, which suffered heavy damage and serious loss of life in the massive earthquake.