Wednesday 12th October 2005
0600hrs (0100hrs GMT) IRC is requested to have 2 sections available at 0700hrs (0200hrs GMT) to travel by helicopter to outlying villages. They will work with team members from other units. 0700hrs (0200hrs GMT) both sections are ready and transport arrives.0745hrs (0245hrs GMT) both sections are away to the heliport where they are briefed and teamed with THW and I S A R.
The teams are ready to depart on the first trips to outlying areas. They are shown at the helicopter airfield
Brigadier Saleem briefs Section 1 that they will be sent to Gharhi Dopattia which is a small town surrounded by small villages, many of which are in the hills and inaccessible other than by foot. Gharhi Dopattia has a landing site for helicopters and the surrounding area is sending the injured to that location for evacuation.
1100hrs (0600hrs GMT) the helicopter is in attendance and the section are on board with 4 soldiers.
1115hrs (0615hrs GMT) finally start up and away.
1130hrs (0630hrs GMT) Section 1 arrive at Gharhi Dopattia and meet with the military commander in the area.
Transport is arranged for the IRC section to travel to the hills whilst THW will support the doctor in treating casualties at the landing site and will also try to check any locations within the town.
The first location visited is Awanpatti which is totally destroyed. In Awanpatti they state that 70 were killed in the school, 65 injured, many serious with 4 dead in the next building, 16 are alive of which 7 are injured. Water is being collected from rainfall. Shelter and blankets are the most urgent need but food will be critical soon.
Similar damage is found in Bundadaigaim. In Bundadaigaim locals state that no one is trapped but give the following figures for the assessment forms 374 dead and 610 injured. Injuries range from fractures, partial amputation, full amputation, internal injury and probably crush injury. The total population in the area is 6,000 and no food stores are left in the area. Shelter and blankets are the most urgent need as winter is coming and this location has already had snow. Water is being collected from rainfall and some small streams are available in the area.
The population of Sultanpur is reported as 150. 15 dead with 57 injured. 30 of those injuries are broken arms and legs. Food is none and water is almost nil. 15 are also suffering from sickness and diarrhoea. All 20 homes within the village are completely or partially damaged. Shelter, food and medical aid are required urgently. A water supply will require to be set up but in the short term some is available within walking distance.
As the helicopter flight gets nearer to the area hit by the earthquake, it is noted that on many hillsides the vegetation has been removed by landslides created by the action of the quake.
All roads within the area of Bandi Hajam are blocked by landslides. It was reported that a total of 65 houses had been destroyed, 13 were dead, 65 injured, 600 had survived but there was no shelter or food. Most of the information was supplied in the area by a Government Official who lived there. Within the locality it was estimated that at least 2000 people would require shelter as an urgent need with food and medical attention following as a close secondary requirement.
At Gharhi Dopattia a Major was in charge of the airfield and gave the following figures as his official estimate. The population within 1 kilometre of the airfield was between 60,000 – 70,000. 3,000 were dead and 10,000 badly injured. At least 50% had minor injury which would require some medical attention. The reports in the area are that the Bagh valley is the worst location with the Jhelum valley also being badly damaged. Helicopter landing sites are available at the following locations, Awan Patti Bala, Kai manga, Koni Kot, Dopalla and Karali. 1640hrs (1140hrs GMT). Section 1 is picked up by an American Chinook and flown back to Muzaffarabad.
08.15hours (0315hrs GMT) Section2 now at the airfield waiting for the helicopter. The primary function is to carry out an assessment of the villages that they are going to. The section has been paired up with a German team called International Search and Rescue (ISAR).
The teams are ready to depart on the first trips to outlying areas. They are shown at the helicopter airfield. ISAR are shown who would work with one of the 2 IRC teams deployed that day.
They have been given a brief regarding the possibility of receiving a hostile reception. The military are very nervous and are insisting that the team go with a number of armed guards to accompany them. 12.40hrs (0740hrs GMT) and they are in the air. They have been told the helicopter will be back at 15.45hrs (10.45hrs GMT) and they need to be back at the drop zone to meet it. If they miss it they could be left for some time. The flight only took about 15mins. It was a bit cramped with 11 on it (this included the one solider that had been sent to guard us).
They landed at a small village in the mountains called Kahori. As they got off the helicopter Ray was approached by Volker Ziegler, the ISAR team leader, who said he was happy to place his team under Ray’s control. This was a big help. They were quickly surrounded by a large crowd who, although angry, were not hostile. A number of wounded people were being brought forward and they put some of those on to the helicopter to go back to Muzaffarabad.
Once the helicopter had gone they tried to find someone who spoke English then tried to find the village elder. Ray spoke with him while they walked up to the village. They were advised that voices had been heard in a building and that some local people were working on clearing the rubble to locate them. He also said that a lot of children were trapped in a school. When they got to the building where the voices had been heard they crawled in to the tunnel that the locals had made and called out. To their surprise two children’s voices shouted back. The building was a religious school and consisted of two floors which had pancaked. Like most of the village it had been built on a slope and was not the most stable of structures. There were other possible entry points but the existing tunnel seemed to offer the best chance.
The two boys rescued by the team in Kahori. Maqbool and Imran who were both uninjured after 5 days buried. IRC had worked with ISAR of Germany on this rescue with Ray Gray being in overall control of the incident. Some of the ISAR team are shown on the rubble of the school with the search dog working.
It was hard work and the building did move a lot particularly when a Chinook helicopter flew over it. They could have propped it but there was so much rubble underneath us that it would have taken a good hour or so to reach the floor to get a solid prop in because of this we decided to press on and take the risk. A Red Cross helicopter landed at the village and Ray sent Annie down to pass a message on to the pilot who in turn would pass it on to the UN. The message was: Have two confirmed live casualties trapped in building. We needed some cutting equipment and water. May not be able to return at 15.45hrs. More time needed to complete rescue.
Annie made the dash to the Helicopter and not only passed the message but came back with two substantial first aid bags. The tunnel was difficult, more so as they did not have any cutting equipment. At 15.15hrs (1015hrs GMT) Ray decided to send a team member back with the helicopter to ensure a clear message got back to base. The rest of the team had decided to stay. They could not leave the two people in the building alive. John Brown drew the short straw and at 15.20 (1020hrs GMT) he took the message and went down to the landing area. The rest of the team then got on with the tunnel. They were really close to the children. They eventually reached them at 15.35hrs (1035hrs GMT). Both children were lying flat on a bed. The youngest one kept asking for a biscuit. There were actually three of them but the third one was dead.
One of the boys rescued by the team in Kahori. Imran is lifted clear after 5 days in the rubble. He has dust in his eyes and has been given dark glasses to help until they are washed out by our medic. Ray Gray, Julie Ryan, Anne Marie Macdonald and John Wilkinson.
One of the boys rescued by the team in Kahori. Maqbool was uninjured and is lifted out of the rubble by Ray Gray and members of ISAR.
They recovered the two children and Annie checked them both over. One was covered in blood and we initially thought he was hurt but the blood was from his brother (the one who had died). One of the children was quite alert and glad to be out while the other, who had be lying next to his dead brother for nearly 4 days was quite traumatised. Their names and ages were Imran 14 years old and Maqbool who was 16 years old. They decided to take them both back with the team for medical treatment. Ray sent a runner down to John B and asked him to hold the helicopter when it landed as we were on our way down with two casualties. The rescue was a really good joint team effort between ourselves and ISAR. All of the team were on a high. They got down to the landing area to wait for the helicopter which was now late.
There were a number of casualties around the landing area. Annie spoke to some of them and advised Ray that two of them needed to be evacuated as a matter of urgency.
One of the boys rescued by the team in Kahori. Anne Marie Macdonald (who was the medic) comforts and checks over Maqbool.
They decided to try to make contact with base via the radio and mobile. After a few attempts they managed to get a message through which included their position and status.
Just as it was getting dark and they were resigned to the fact that they were going to be out overnight a helicopter appeared. John marshalled it in and they began to put on some of the wounded.
They eventually took off with 8 casualties plus carers, 10 team members and 1 soldier. It is reported that it did struggle to get off the ground and the only place left for Ray to sit (as he was last on) was the doors at the back.
When they landed the team got off but the casualties stayed on to go to Islamabad for treatment. A bus was waiting at the airfields to take them back to base. Once there Ray gave the following report to the UN:
The population of Kahori is reported as 2000. There are 200 dead with 52 injured some of those injuries are broken arms and legs. The water supply is contaminated and there is very little food. No building has escaped damage. Medical facility destroyed and no medical supplies. There is no Doctor but there are two nursing assistants. Within the locality it was estimated that at least1800 people would require shelter as an urgent need with food and medical attention following as a close secondary requirement.
They returned to the IRC base at 1750hrs (1250hrs GMT).
1810hrs (1310hrs GMT) the team leaders meet to discuss the day. Four live casualties had been located today but many were dying from untreated injury and the cold. All agreed to the Military being advised that SAR was coming to an end. 2200hrs (1700hrs GMT) A meeting of all UK team leaders is called by DFID and it is decided to withdraw tomorrow. It is agreed that all small and large tents will be donated; some sleeping bags, tarpaulins and various other items may also be left.