Boys visit the remains of their home near Pakistan’s northern districts of Mansehra and Battagram. In the days after the earthquake, relief teams were hampered by mudslides from reaching victims.
The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) has released an initial grant of $10,000 in response to an appeal by Action by Churches Together (ACT) for funds to assist 10,000 families displaced by the massive earthquake that killed at least 54,000 in parts of India and Pakistan on Oct. 8.
The earthquake, which measured 7.6 on the Richter scale, severely hit the Kashmiri border area between India and Pakistan but the tremor was felt as far away as Kabul and New Delhi. In the days after the quake, government officials of both countries said the number of dead could climb. It was the third severe natural disaster to hit India in less than a year – a tsunami devastated its coastline last December, and floods ravaged many parts of the country last summer.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, expressed “great distress” in hearing the news and wrote to Bishop Alexander Malik, moderator of the Church of Pakistan, and Bishop James Teron, moderator of the Church of North India, assuring them of his prayers.
“In Britain, where so many of our communities have links with the region, the impact of this tragedy is keenly felt and our thoughts are very much with you,” he wrote.
PWRDF, which is accepting donations for earthquake relief, said ACT, of which it is a member agency, is assisting with emergency relief of food and non-food items, as well as construction materials. Another ACT member, Church World Service, is working with local and international groups as well as local authorities in responding to the affected areas. “This is going to be the one remembered as the earthquake that killed the children,” said Marvin Parvez, Church World Service director for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“The worst affected region appears to be in and around the town of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir close to the line of control with India,” said the International Committee of the Red Cross in a statement. “Muzaffarabad itself has been badly damaged and surrounding villages have been flattened. Many access routes to the region have been blocked by mudslides and earthquake damage, making it difficult for relief teams to reach the victims.”
Meanwhile, PWRDF contributed $15,000 for a co-ordinated global appeal issued by ACT for victims of mudslides triggered by tropical storm Stan in Central America and Mexico Oct. 1.
In El Salvador, heavy rains caused massive flooding and more than 700 landslides; 65 people have been reported dead, and 46,500 have been evacuated. This disaster, combined with the eruption on the same day of the Santa Ana volcano, brought the number of displaced victims to more than 54,000.
ACT has been providing emergency assistance to affected areas; the Conference of Evangelical Churches of Guatemala, a PWRDF partner, is working with the ACT Guatemala Forum in providing food, water, medicines, clothes and hygiene kits.