Uncertainty grips Pak quake survivors | india | Hindustan Times
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Uncertainty grips Pak quake survivors

Six months after an earthquake killed more than 80,000 people, it's only become tougher for Pak villagers.

india Updated: Apr 08, 2006 16:07 IST

Life was never easy for dirt-poor villagers like 73-year-old widow Kuresha, living amid the clouds in Pakistan's bleak northern mountains.

Six months after an earthquake killed more than 80,000 people, it's only become tougher.

Despite a massive international relief effort, aid workers are still struggling to reach isolated communities beneath these snowcapped peaks, where thousands of crudely built stone houses were flattened by the 7.6-magnitude quake on October 8, 2005.

Reconstruction of 600,000 permanent homes across the quake zone has scarcely begun, and many like Kuresha are desperate, mired deeper in poverty than ever before.

"All I had was a home before the earthquake, and now I don't even have that," said the toothless, frail and veiled Kuresha, who goes by one name. Her hamlet of Kalas Chungry in the Serin Valley of the North West Frontier Province lies a day's walk away from the nearest town.

Aid efforts to date have provided emergency relief, prevented disease from spreading and kept people alive through the bitter winter months -- allaying fears that frigid temperatures could lead to a "second wave" of deaths.

The temblor left 3.5 million people homeless. Some 200,000 went into camps -- most of which the government says will be shut by Monday -- while the rest sheltered in tents or tin-roofed shacks.

Now, Pakistani and UN authorities say April will herald a drive to rebuild permanent homes and improve livelihoods.