Earthquake affects UA students

By Ariel Serafin
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The overwhelming effects from the earthquake that shook Pakistan last week have reached members of the UA community who have lost family and friends in the rumbling aftermath.

The magnitude 7.6 earthquake is currently estimated to have killed 54,000 people, and the death toll continues to rise as rescue workers fail to reach victims in time to save their lives.

Molecular and cellular biology junior Syeda Kazmi, whose family lives in Pakistan, said two of her cousins died in the earthquake. Kazmi said her family was completely terrified and confused when the earthquake occurred.

"Everyone was shaken up because they didn't know what was happening," Kazmi said. "They were trying to call family."

Kazmi said although her immediate family lives far from the epicenter of the quake, they could still feel the tremors and worried about how large the quake might get.

"There were dozens of huge aftershocks," Kazmi said. "(My family) would run out of the house every two minutes."

UA alumnus and former president of the UA Muslim Student Association Jassem Khan said that although his family lives in the capital of Islamabad, which is far from the earthquake's epicenter, the effects of the disaster were visible in his home.

Khan said his sisters, who were home at the time of the quake, described the force of the tremors to him in a telephone conversation.

"The front gates of the house appeared as if they were paper the way they were moving," Khan said.

Although no members of Khan's family died, he said many of his friends in the area are grieving the deaths of family members who were killed underneath the rubble and completely collapsed houses.

Khan said his family and friends have experienced the horror of the disaster firsthand, and that it is far worse than the media could ever show.

"What you're seeing on TV, in the papers, on the news is nothing compared to what I've heard," Khan said. "They've actually heard cries of people buried under the ground."

Khan said the victims desperately needed not only monetary donations but also tents to use as shelter from the fast-approaching winter months and pouring rain.

"Whoever has a tent mostly has it for recreational purposes," Khan said, urging students to donate tents as soon as possible. "We're experiencing casualties by the hour."

Khan said although disasters in the U.S. like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are tragic, the magnitude of the tragedy in Pakistan was amplified by the fact the country doesn't have the money and resources to recover as quickly.

"There are no words to describe it," Khan said.