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Last Updated: Monday, 10 October 2005, 04:00 GMT 05:00 UK
Tragedy of quake felt in Bradford
By John Thorne
BBC North of England correspondent

A homemade notice tied to the lamp post outside told friends and relatives which house in the high-hedged suburban close was the Mir family home.

Hamid Mir
Hamid Mir is travelling to Pakistan to try to help his brother's family

On the ground floor of the neat semi-detached family home, the furniture in every room had been cleared and chairs arranged against the walls for the constant stream of visitors wishing to pass on their condolences.

Hamid Mir, 20 years a businessman in Bradford, had lost an older brother to the devastating earthquake.

Choking back his tears he showed me, with glowing pride, a graduation photograph of Dr Khwajam-Aslam, the Dean of the University of Azad Kashmir, killed on the campus in Muzaffarabad when his house collapsed in the earthquake.

I saw one female visitor to the Bradford house kiss the photograph, as a mark of respect and a way of demonstrating her personal grief.

And the horror is that this scene was being repeated in hundreds if not thousands of households across Bradford and other towns in West Yorkshire, because there is hardly a Muslim family in the former wool and cotton mill districts that hasn't got relatives in the areas of destruction.

The agony for many families was prolonged because they could not get any news from the isolated country areas
John Thorne
BBC correspondent

Hamid Mir and a nephew are travelling to Pakistan, determined to get to Muzaffarabad somehow to help his brother's family and other survivors.

And in Bradford, there is communal mobilisation of resources to try to assist the victims in Pakistan and Kashmir.

The Bradford Council for Mosques met, and after consulting various aid charities already involved, decided that the mosques would organise a special fund at every prayer meeting to gather as much cash as possible.

Special prayers

Khadim Hussain, the council President, told me that the community was devastated by the scale of the earthquake.

320,800 Pakistan-born
750,000 ethnically Pakistani
Kashmiri hubs: W Mids and Yorks
90,000 Kashmiri-heritage in Birmingham
70,000 Kashmiri-heritage in Bradford
Family: 7,000 Pakistani spouses annually come to UK
Note: Figures approximate, based on 2001 Census and other data
And the agony for many families was prolonged because they could not get any news from the isolated country areas which they knew were close to the epicentre and were still cut off.

Ahsan Ul-Haq, a young Bradford-born Muslim, told me that his parents had spent hours desperately, and unsuccessfully, trying to telephone his grandparents in Kashmir.

They had managed to contact relatives in Islamabad, but no one could give them any reassuring news.

Inside Bradford Central mosque, as the strict fasting festival of Ramadan continues, worshippers said special prayers for the earthquake victims.

It is through the network of mosques across the city that the community leaders hope to collect funds quickly and generously.

But they know the full picture from the earthquake area will be on a scale that is difficult to contemplate many thousands of miles away, and that there will be very few Muslim households in the city unaffected by the tragedy.


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