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Rushing Aid to Pakistan


Sami Malik is national communications officer for UNICEF in Pakistan. He's in the capital, Islamabad, but earlier in the day he was in Muzaffarabad, the capital city of Pakistani Kashmir, and he described what he saw there.

Mr. SAMI MALIK (National Communications Officer, UNICEF): Robert, I saw a city which is completely devastated, people in a state of utter disappointment and stress with their beloved ones buried under the rubbles. And these people are waiting to dig out their bodies with their bare hands, and they've been doing that for two days now. They've--there's not a family there that hasn't lost a member, and it was a pretty devastating scene throughout the city. This is a beautiful city otherwise, which lies in the valley, and a beautiful scenic view of the valley one can get from the hilltop where two rivers, Indus and Neelum(ph), meet. But this beautiful city has been razed down to rubble.

SIEGEL: Are there signs of aid arriving either from the Pakistani government or from international organizations?

Mr. MALIK: Yes, it has started to arrive by the government of Pakistan, mainly by the military services. The international agencies have also started getting tents and dry eatables there. One can see lots of international media and a number of search and rescue teams, which are trying to find survivors in the rubble.

SIEGEL: Who is in charge, if anyone is in charge, in Muzaffarabad?

Mr. MALIK: Predominantly the Pakistan military, the medical corps of the Pakistan military, who've set up temporary medical facility in the helipad of the city, from where they're lifting the injured and getting medicines in, getting other aid in. In this temporary medical facility, people are being operated upon, given first aid and then being moved through helicopters to proper hospital. The city had a proper CMH, a central military hospital, which was brought down by the quake, and a number of doctors and nurses were lost in there.

SIEGEL: Since the quake, have there been many aftershocks felt in Muzaffarabad?

Mr. MALIK: Well, according to one geophysicist, who appeared on one of the local channels, there have been 150 aftershocks, which have been felt not only in the Muzaffarabad valley or in the northwestern frontier province of Baksan(ph), but even in Islamabad, which is about hundred kilometers from the epicenter.

SIEGEL: I would imagine that, beyond what damage an aftershock might do, just the mental damage it would do to people who experienced the first quake would be considerable. It must be a horrible experience to feel that shaking again.

Mr. MALIK: Absolutely, Robert. The kids cannot sleep, the adults cannot sleep because of the aftershocks and the trauma, and this is going to last for a very long time, I believe. And some of the aftershocks have been up to the magnitude of 6.4. So you can imagine, you're absolutely right, the trauma is going to last for very long.

SIEGEL: Sami Malik, who is national communications officer for UNICEF in Pakistan, speaking to us from Islamabad.

Thank you very much, Mr. Malik.

Mr. MALIK: Thank you, Robert. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.