Earthquake in South Asia

The 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck the Kashmir region on Saturday morning has caused widespread devastation in Pakistan as well as in India. As aid starts to pour into the region amid concerns that efforts are not being properly co-ordinated, relief operations are under way to help thousands of injured survivors. An estimated two million people have been left homeless, according to media reports, but weather conditions and the remote mountainous terrain are slowing progress, so much so that several villages in the affected area are still cut off. Pakistan-administered Kashmir was the hardest hit region, with entire villages wiped out and much of the capital, Muzaffarabad, destroyed. Confronted with this tragic situation the Jesuits of South Asia are trying to figure out the possibility of reaching out to the people affected. Looking at the quantum of destruction, loss of life and property in both India and Pakistan, especially for the people of Kashmir on both sides, Fr Joe Xavier, South Asian Assistancy Coordinator for the Social Apostolate, attempts to ascertain how our support to the people on the Pakistani side can be channelled. ?I am aware of the complexity involved in this effort,? he writes ?I am in touch with the Bishop of Rawalpindi, which is about 15 km away from Islamabad. I have informed him that some of us Jesuits and collaborators have the expertise to work in the aftermath of earthquake and I am waiting for his response. We have a few Jesuits in Pakistan but they are in Lahore, which is about 500 km away from the affected area. They will also tell us in what way we could support them. Be ready if some specific needs arise.? Fr Joe Xavier SJ jesa@jesuits.net