Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Quake in South Asia: Stories of miracles emerge

Signs of hope amid crisis

There are no words that can adequately describe the tremendous loss caused by powerful earthquake that hit Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. In the midst of this tragedy, reporters are uncovering glimmers of hope and the stories of miracles. One such story surfaced in a report carried by the Washington Post on Monday.

GARHI HABIBULLAH, Pakistan, Oct. 9 -- Zakar Hussain felt sick when he saw the school. Moments earlier, it had been a two-story stone-and-concrete building filled with hundreds of girls in blue-and-white uniforms. Now it was a heap of rubble, enveloped in a cloud of white dust. Already, he could hear the screams. And somewhere inside was his daughter.

Zeeshan sits on rubble of his house destroyed by a huge earthquake in Gari Habibullah, 56 miles from Islamabad, Pakistan. Bodies lay in the streets and villagers pulled debris from collapsed schools and mud-brick homes with their bare hands on, desperate to find survivors.

"Maria! Maria!" Hussain shouted, as hordes of other desperate parents converged on the scene. For nearly 30 minutes, he said, he frantically circled the flattened building, peering between broken concrete slabs with his weeping wife at his side. Then, amid the cacophony of cries, Hussain heard a familiar voice. "Abu!" the 14-year-old girl shouted from somewhere beneath the wreckage. "Father!"

After hearing his daughter's voice, "I felt I could move all this debris," said Hussain, whose bloodied and bandaged hands bore witness to his struggle. He and his brother pounded on the rubble for 15 minutes and finally opened a two-foot-wide hole. There on the other side, he said, was his daughter's tear-streaked face.
He grabbed her by the chin and pulled her, uninjured, to safety.

"I was very sure I would die," recalled Maria, a wavy-haired girl who says she wants to be a doctor. The teenager said she was sitting in Urdu class with 62 other children on the ground floor of the building when the earthquake struck. The teacher, Miss Yasib, had just begun the day's lesson, on "friendship and responsibility."

At the first jolt, many children ran for the exit, and some escaped outside, Maria recalled. But then the ceiling caved in, trapping her and several dozen other children in a dark space about two feet high. After she heard her father's voice, Maria said, she crawled about 30 feet through the gloom toward a pinprick of light, which grew steadily wider.

About 50 girls were pulled from the shattered building alive, according to Hussain and Mohammed Shafik, the school watchman.

Again, this story appeared in Monday's Washington Post. Of course, casualty figures and other information have been updated since then. The 50 girls, including Maria, were very lucky. The same could not be said of all of their schoolmates. Still, there is something very compelling to say about this story of one determined father and his daughter. To read the entire article, click here.
The blog (web log) FM chronicles other miraculous events following the quake. Light Within offers an initial timeline of events surrounding the earthquake as well as a listing of relevant websites in a post entitled "This is Pakistan." As always, comments are welcome.

Tags: , , , ,


AsianSmiles said...

"There are no words that can adequately describe the tremendous loss caused by powerful earthquake that hit Pakistan, India and Afghanistan."


Rose said...

This saddens me to know that so many lost their lives and others their homes, etc. I am praying that strength is found in the midst of this suffering..