As the governments and aid agencies continue rescue and relief efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan, some survivors of Monday’s massive earthquake say they have lost everything, even the hope of leading a normal life again.
The combined death toll in the earthquake that struck the remote Hindu Kush mountains topped 360, and officials on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border warned Tuesday that casualty figures most likely would leap once relief workers returned from villages so remote they can only be accessed on foot or by donkey.
VOA reached out to several families that lost loved ones and became homeless.
“Six of my cousins were among the dead,” said Abdul Qader, a resident of Ningarhar, Afghanistan. He said he knew of one entire family that perished and another that lost several children.
With children dead, livestock killed and homes destroyed, some survivors said they had nothing to look forward to.
“We have lost it all. We had stocked some grains and flour, but all is gone,” said Fazle Wahab, who is from Pakistan’s Bajur area, along the Afghan border.
Authorities said 248 people died in Pakistan and 115 in Afghanistan in the magnitude-7.5 quake, which was centered in Afghanistan's sparsely populated Badakhshan province that borders Pakistan, Tajikistan and China. Three people died on the Indian side of the disputed region of Kashmir.
Needing food, shelter
Many people lost their homes and were desperately looking for food and shelter. Saddam Hussain of Pakistan’s Upper Dir region, which was among the areas hit hardest, called VOA to share his story: “Our livestock was killed and our kitchen completely destroyed. I do not know if we can cook anything for dinner tonight.”
Pakistan's military said engineers succeeded in reopening portions of the Karakoram Highway blocked by landslides that had been caused by the quake. The reopening allowed authorities to begin transporting relief supplies to affected areas in the northern regions, where dozens were killed and hundreds of others were left homeless.
Helicopters and military planes were transporting relief supplies, and military engineers were working on restoring communication lines disrupted by landslides, said Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa, an army spokesman.
In Afghanistan, people were appealing to the government to come to their rescue and also give them financial support. “In addition to the loss of human lives, we have lost our belongings, and we want the government to give us financial assistance,” an Afghan citizen said.
Sonatullah Taimor, a spokesman for the governor of Afghanistan’s Takhar province, said food, blankets and tents were in short supply, at a time when people have been warned to sleep outside, in near-freezing temperatures, in case of aftershocks.
VOA's Afghan and Deewa services contributed to this report.