[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Monday, 10 October 2005, 19:09 GMT 20:09 UK
Survivors search remains of Balakot

Andrew North
BBC News, Balakot

The centre of Balakot no longer exists.

Almost every shop in the bazaar is destroyed, the goods that were on sale on Saturday before the earthquake hit now strewn across the twisted mass of wreckage.

Destruction in Balakot
Hopes of finding any more survivors are fading
Mosques are down, restaurants destroyed, along with offices, hundreds of homes and also schools.

That's where some of the most tragic scenes have been.

There were hundreds of girls and boys in classes when the earthquake struck. Many of them have died.

At the Balakot boys' school, rescuers - most of them local people - have been finding their bodies all day.

Many of them are now bloated as they decompose, the smell grows heavier in the air.

It's a terrible sight when relatives arrive and find that the distorted form before them is their son.

I watched boy after boy being pulled from the rubble of the school.

By late morning, there were 30 bodies laid out on what remained of the basketball court. Many have now been buried in a large grave dug in the school grounds.

It was the same scene at the Balakot girls' school, up the hill from the centre of town. Local people say more than 100 bodies have been brought out so far.

'No help'

Nearby, I watched the terrible sight of relatives bearing 22 members of their family who had died in their flattened houses. The women and men were crying.

Some of the men started to complain about what they said was the lack of help they were getting.

Injured child at Balakot
Doctors are struggling to cope with the amount of casualties
"The army, the government, they're doing nothing. It's the third day now and tonight again we will have to sleep outside. We have no food, no water, no tents", said one man.

They also said they needed heavy digging equipment to get underneath the wreckage of their homes and the schools.

Earlier, a baby and an old man were pulled alive from the wreckage here. But hopes for survivors are fading, with most people having nothing but their hands and a few picks and shovels to do the searching.

A few heavy digging machines have made it through to Balakot having cleared the road. But they're only in the centre of town.

They've started work on some of the ruined buildings - people gathering around as they work, hoping to spot signs of life in the wreckage.

But there's nowhere near the amount of equipment or assistance needed for the scale of the devastation here.

People complain that all they see of the government so far is a few Pakistani soldiers but they say they're not taking an active role in the rescue effort, they're here more for security.

All day there have been many Pakistani army helicopters flying over the town but none of them have been dropping supplies or landing; they've only been flying over the area and then returning again to their bases.

And this evening as dark fell over the devastated town of Balakot, the searching was still going on by groups of survivors.

Local people are still using their hands, picks and shovels, trying to find survivors under the rubble working only with small torches, and fading hope.




RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific