Prayer & relief needed for earthquake victims in South Asia

by Kelly Ledbetter |

(REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood)A man clears the rubble of the house of 50-year-old herbal healer Najib Alam, whose mud-and-stone house was damaged by the 7.5 magnitude quake, in Rehankot village in District Dir, Pakistan, October 28, 2015.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Christian Examiner) – The earthquake came without warning while people were going about their daily lives.

"I thought at first it was a terrorist attack," a local Pakistani woman said, according to Open Doors. "It sounded like the same sound when the rumbling started bringing down walls. I look around me and all I see is damage."

Three hundred sixty four deaths have been confirmed in the magnitude 7.5 earthquake that shook northeastern Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan and India on Oct. 26.

An Open Doors partner in Pakistan has requested prayer for relief from the earthquake. Aftershocks have permeated the area, and despite the winter weather, some people are still sleeping outside.

Though the earthquake originated deep under Jarm, Afghanistan, Pakistan has been hardest hit, in part because the area is more populous than the surrounding countries. Almost 250 of the reported deaths occurred in Pakistan, where there are over 1,000 people injured.

"The devastation is going to be huge," Fazi Din, a doctor in Peshawar, told Open Doors. "It is very difficult to reach the far-flung villages."

Relief efforts have begun, but the destruction was extensive and restoration will take time.

Among the dead are 12 Afghan schoolgirls who were trampled during a stampede to exit their falling school.

"I thought these were things only found in horror movies," said the Pakistani woman. "We are living once again in a horrific time."

REMOTE VILLAGES BLOCKED

The villages in the mountains will be hardest to aid, especially since some have access by only one road.

A photo slideshow and footage from CNN shows people throughout the region climbing through the wreckage of their homes, carrying wounded to hospitals, and waiting anxiously by bedsides.

Some of the buildings destroyed appear to be houses made of stone or wood and sometimes of concrete blocks and with corrugated metal roofs.

"Many villages in normal circumstances are one or two hours from proper roads," Arif Noor, the Pakistan director for the aid group Mercy Corps, told CNN. "As you can imagine, reaching those people and helping them out is going to be a major challenge."

In addition to aftershocks, landslides and settling rubble continue to make the situation precarious, but aid workers and locals are beginning to clear the roads. Transportation is an urgent concern for people who are still in critical condition.

The Pakistani woman and local Open Doors partners ask for prayer: "Once again, Open Doors regional partners have been here with us, praying with us and ministering to us," she said. "Thank you for your love. Please keep praying."