Monday, October 10, 2005

Quake families 'frantic for news'

Last Updated: Monday, 10 October 2005, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK

Quake families 'frantic for news'

People are still being found alive

Frantic overseas telephone calls and cash donations are leading the English Muslim community's response to the South Asia earthquake.

Appeals have been launched for blankets and food as survivors are found, while e-mails have begun to arrive as calls to the stricken area go unanswered.

A Birmingham-based charity, Islamic Relief, has already sent £2m in aid.

People have relied on news passed by word of mouth at prayers, as Muslims celebrate Ramadan, a Kent group said.

Azim Nader, general secretary of the Kent Muslim Welfare Association said: "The first thing people have done is frantically try to contact friends and relatives."

Child found alive

He said people were still trying to assess the immediate personal impact of the disaster, as well as sending donations to the aid effort.

Fears have been raised for people living in remote, hilly areas with poor communication and no rescue services.

Dr Siraj Shah, a Gravesend GP, said: "The most worrying aspect in an area such as Kashmir is the lack of rescue services and the lack of communications.

"Those who will be trapped under rubble I doubt will have any chance at all of being rescued, because there are no services."

And Dr Abduljalil Sjid, of the Sussex Muslim Society Trust, said: "Some areas can only be reached by helicopter - there are no landing places."

People need food, blankets and medicine

Yorkshire members of the International Rescue Corps, who are specialists in urban search and rescue, have been among those searching for survivors.

On Monday the team pulled a 12-year-old child alive from a collapsed building.

And in Nottingham, a city with about 12,000 residents of Pakistani origin including the Lord Mayor, a civic fund has been launched as estimates of the casualties reach 50,000.

Launching an appeal, Councillor Mohammed Munir said: "We need to do something."

Donations from the Muslim community in the South West of England are going through the charity Humanity First.

A special relationship

Spokesman Rashid Ahmad, a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said people had reacted with shock.

He said one load of aid had already been sent and a doctor had gone over.

In the West Midlands, extra staff have been drafted into the offices of Birmingham-based charity Islamic Relief to handle the increasing amount of calls.

Staff at the charity's field office in Islamabad were among the first to reach the scenes and treat the injured.

Spokesman Waseem Yaqub said: "We have already allocated £2m and are mobilising all resources to provide emergency aid, food, blankets and medicine."

And he said: "Britain has a special relationship with Pakistan, socially and economically.

"Nearly 1.5m British people are from this region, and most of us linked to this tragedy in one way or another."[]


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