|Three days after the South Asian earthquake, the official death toll stands at more than 23,000 in Pakistan and 1,400 in India. Humanitarian aid and relief workers are pouring into the region to help search for survivors and provide assistance to the millions left homeless. |
Desperate for food and blankets, overwhelmed Pakistanis surrounded relief trucks Tuesday, frantically scuffling over supplies. In the streets of Muzaffarabad, men stole gasoline, saying they had no other choice.
"We have our children and women who are badly injured at home, and we have to take them to the hospital by any means,” said one man.
Three days after the massive 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck, international aid is just beginning to arrive. Some are criticizing the Pakistani government's response.
"We are alone here. We have nothing. We are finished,” said a survivor.
Many of the hardest hit areas are isolated towns in the heart of the Himalayas -- a difficult trip for rescue and relief teams. Help is coming from Europe, China, Russia, the Persian Gulf -- even India, Pakistan's neighbor and longtime rival.
The UN has appealed for $272 million to provide relief, and NATO has offered to coordinate airlifts.
American troops, heading to Pakistan from Kyrgyzstan, got words of encouragement from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "When people are in need we go to their side as much as people came to our side when we experienced hurricanes Katrina and Rita. And I know that you are going to do a fine job."
The U.S. has sent food, blankets, tents, equipment, military helicopters and more. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, "Certainly, we're going to do whatever we can to come to the aid of our good friends and allies at this time of their suffering, and we extend our sympathy and our prayers to those who lost loved ones."
Rain complicated relief work Tuesday, grounding helicopter flights. Families left without shelter got soaked in the storms.
With bodies lying in the open, the United Nations warned of disease -- fearing outbreaks of cholera, diarrhea and measles. Three days after the earthquake, rescuers are still pulling a few survivors from the rubble, but mostly, they are finding the dead.
One rescuer said, "We found 60 bodies in different places."
Another rescuer added, "But we are hoping to get some people alive; enshallah, enshallah. We are hoping for the best."