Friday, November 04, 2005

Death-Toll likely to be much higher - Just back from "Ground Zero"

UPDATE - November 4, 2005 - Just a quick note enroute from Pakistan currently in-transit through Manchester, England. Will be back in the U.S. tonight. Will write a full report after a good nights sleep. Thanks for your prayer!

Earlier Report from Islamabad, Pakistan - As we rumbled down the narrow trail that used to be a mountain road, Ahktar shared what happened to him on the morning of the the terrible earthquake. First came the cataclysmic shaking that roared like a thousand trains. Rocks began falling everywhere, screams of terror and seeing the houses collapsing before his very eyes. The huge shattering shaking just kept going on and on. More rock slides, bodies frantically being pulled out the rubble then suddenly came the storm. It was like no other storm Ahktar had ever experienced, filled with punishing hale, howling wind and more shaking and more rocks falling. Ahktar described the scene of dead bodies with hale striking them, children screaming, then more shaking and finally in blind panic he just began running and pleading with God to save him. He knew it was the end of the world.

Ahktar led us to our destination, the village (his home) of Devli Jabbar located at the extreme tip of Pakistan on the Kashmir border. The four hour drive there was harrowing. The road in places left us a mere six inches on each side with towering boulders precariously balanced above us and a sheer 1000 foot drop off on the other side. What appeared to be smoke on the side of the mountain ahead of us was actually rock slides. The earth is still shaking. So was our team as we proceeded to Devli Jabbar. There are times when you just realize that it could be all over in a flash. Several times, we considered jumping from our vehicle.

This was our second Vortex Voyager TM deployment of the day (the first being in a large tent city). After the grueling journey, we decided to leave 2 Vortex Voyagers TM with the village, knowing full well that even a minor after-shock will likely take the road out, completely isolating this village for months. As we entered the village, children laughed and followed us like we were leading a parade as we trekked the final half mile. We saw graves everywhere. A simple mound of earth to the size of the victim. It was chilling. I remembered as we were driving here, we passed a small clearing on the side of the road. There were 3 little children, perhaps 5, 8 and 11, just kneeling beside a grave about the size of their mother. The image is burned in my brain and heart. Look, over the years, I've seen a lot of disasters, but I never get used to it. The grief and suffering literally permeates the air. We trained 2 village leaders on the operation of the Vortex Voyager TM and Sahib will follow up on the deployment. The simple joy of bringing clean water to these precious people is overwhelming. We must do all that we can to help!

As the day wore on, the air got progressively colder as we all realized that winter is coming. It's likely going to be a harsh winter, as it's early for it to be this cold. TIME IS RUNNING out for so many. Well over 1,000,000 are homeless. Usually, the nomadic Pakistan mountain dwellers migrate down from the upper elevations as winter approaches. That has all changed with the October 8th quake. In many areas, passages are blocked and people are trapped. We must get clean water to them. What a privilege it is to be here at this desperate time and be able to lend assistance in this massive disaster.

After what we've witnessed with our own eyes and speaking with Relief leaders, the Death-Toll is expected to be higher, much higher! We have several crucial meetings with strategic leaders. Dan Carpenter with World in Need (WIN) has been instrumental in arranging these meetings. Dan worked with the Houston Rotary, who sent us to our "champion", Shezhad Amed of the Lahore, Pakistan Rotary. These guys are CONNECTED! They are helping us to reach our goal to deploy 200 Vortex Voyagers TM here in the mountains of Pakistan before winter!! We need a miracle to do this. Please PRAY! Will write more tomorrow. I'd better run for now. God Bless each of you! Thanks so much for helping us to help these precious people!!


Joe Hurston
President - Air Mobile


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