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Last Updated: Monday, 10 October 2005, 10:24 GMT 11:24 UK
Eyewitness: Kashmir earthquake
A boy stands in front of the ruins of a house in Indian-administered Kashmir
Thousands of people have lost their homes in the quake
Jan Peter Stellema - a Dutch aid worker working with Medecins Sans Frontieres - was in a remote village in Indian-administered Kashmir when the earthquake struck on Saturday morning.

He told the BBC's World Service about the impact it had on the buildings and people around him.

We are in a very small village high up in the mountains of Kashmir. All around me all the houses have been destroyed.

I am sitting in front of our own house which has also been completely destroyed. People are sitting outside their houses while other people are digging graves and carrying bodies on wooden planks.

We've just started our programme, a medical programme for pregnant women, and we are in the process of hiring people.

Beautiful house

I was doing job interviews with three drivers this morning when suddenly the walls turned to jelly. Me and my colleagues ran out and people ran away.

Then our house was gone - with our midwife in it. So we went to get a saw to get her out. She's all right now.

It was horrible. I had a beautiful house and today it's gone. The same is true for the people who live here.

For us it will be easy because we'll be able to get out but the people here will have to suffer harsh living conditions. The winter will be coming soon - this is not a good situation at all.

A man mourns over a newly dug grave
The dead are being buried as the search for survivors continues
People are sitting down, they're calm. They know that getting in a panic does not help.

Our neighbour has lost his three daughters. I had a man come here who cried in my arms and told me he'd lost his wife and his daughter.

People also come to us to ask if we are all right. We've only been living in this village for two weeks.

It's five o'clock now and the earthquake was at a couple of minutes past nine but no help has arrived. I've seen one military helicopter but I think it will be extremely difficult to get help as it will have to come by air.

On the road I had to climb through big ditches and no cars are able to drive here.

The biggest need now is for water. People start drinking water from dirty sources so it's of the utmost importance.

People also need shelter and blankets so they can keep themselves warm. We also need medication for the injured. I've seen severely wounded people. I've never been in a situation like this but I guess the dead have to be buried to stop diseases from spreading.

Luckily during the daytime it is hot but at night people will be cold. I can hear people trying to get tin roofing off houses - that's a dangerous job in itself. The only happy sound being made is the birds at the moment.




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