"Cries filled the town and, in background, the roar of an avalanche: A land-slide. I saw lights falling downwards that could only be a car which had been caught in the falling rock. The following day, the team confirmed several landslides which have once again blocked sections of the Karakorum Highway. (Click to enlarge).
An injured girl is assisted by Alpinclub Sachsen team members some weeks ago - before winter struck quake-affected areas in Northern Pakistan. Images courtesy of Alpinclub Sachsen (click to enlarge).
Pakistan quake update - Alpinclub Sachsen 3rd team OK: "Not an aftershock, but a new earthquake altogether"

Posted: Dec 14, 2005 06:00 pm EST
(K2Climb.net) When the second Alpinclub Sachsen team, a doctor and his assistant, returned safely home, the German climbing club considered their aid relief project in Pakistan over. But emails kept pouring in: Every day newborns and children are coming to hospitals, suffering from serious pulmonary infections due to cold, doctors in Pakistan reported.

Help for Christmas

Alpin Club Sachsen members quicky resolved to send a third aid team to help out until December 23rd.

Leading the third group was veteran Jens Sommerfeld, member of the first two-man aid team, who provided first aid during the initial weeks following the October 8th quake. Completing the team are club-mate Michael Jürgens, and Dr. Thomas Gündel from Frankfurt. Bernd Zschätzsch a climber from Dresden collaborating with noVa, wil also join the team for some days.

The team arranged the trip with virtually no time to make plans. They departed Germany on Friday, and reached Besham on Sunday just in time to experience the latest 6,7 aftershock at full intensity!

Cries, landslides and earth shaking

We were wasted, and went to bed soon, reported Jens Sommerfeld yesterday. However, I couldnt sleep somehow, I knew something was going to happen. And it did. At about three in the morning, the earth started shaking. At first it was a light tremor. Ah, another aftershock, I thought I have had quite a lot of them."

"But then the tremor got stronger, and stronger; it was longer than any I have ever experienced (10-15 seconds). I jumped from the bed and went out to the balcony, ready to jump on to a neighboring flat roof. Cries filled the town and, in background, the roar of an avalanche: A land-slide. I saw lights falling downwards that could only be a car which had been caught in the falling rock.

Not an aftershock but a new earthquake altogether

Michael pulled himself together quickly. He told me to calm down too, and to try to get some sleep (we had been traveling non-stop for three days). So I did during the night we felt another two lighter tremors. But despite the movement, I managed to sleep for a couple of hours.

The following morning we learned it was a 6.7 tremor, with an epicenter near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was not an aftershock: This one was a new earthquake altogether.

The team also reported some landslides in the area, which have once again blocked several local roads as well as a few sections of the Karakorum Highway.

However violently the earth shook, the team has no intention of changing their plans. Today they resumed their trip to Sakargah, where they intend to create a new aid program.

Lessons on surviving winter

This third aid team will focus not just on health concerns, but will also check the status of villagers in mountain areas. Their goal to ensure that the weakest (the elderly, women and children, etc.) have adequate shelter to endure the winter.

The Germans and Swiss will therefore try to show people in Sakargah how to build endurable shelters with whatever materials they have available. In addition, they hope to teach villagers safety techniques for surviving the cold in donated tents.

During winter months, locals are accustomed to lighting wood-fires inside their homes to cook and keep themselves warm. However, they will not be able to continue this practice if they are living in tents and shelters made of flammable materials and lacking proper ventilation.

15 to save one life

The team will distribute propane stoves - the safest under these conditions - and show villagers how to use them. The Germans are hoping locals will adopt the new heating system long-term.
This would have a positive effect on Himalayan forests, which are currently over-exploited by locals who use the wood for fire, relief team-members said. They will also try to set up a distribution system so the locals can exchange their empty gas canisters for full ones. At present they cannot purchase new gas bottles.

The average cost of this is 15 per person, reports Christian Walter, one of the founders of the Pakistan aid project from Alpinclub Sachsen. With only 15 (US $17) a mother will be able to put a bottle of hot water in her childs bed, protecting him/her from cold and disease. It costs only 15 for a man to be able to warm his hands by a gas stove; only 15 for each person to have enough propane to last until March 15th.

Alpinclub Sachsen team members, who launched an expedition on Nanga Parbat in 2004, were among the first in the clmibing community to react after a major earthquake hit Pakistan and Indian Kashmir on October 8th. Joining forces with Swiss mountain rescuers, within weeks, Christian Walter and Jens Sommerfeld traveled to Northern Pakistan to provide first aid. Upon their return, Christian Walter launched a second team, this time focusing on medical assistance and surgery. The second team's members were Dr. Rutker Stellke and assistant Thomas Mecklenburg.

Now a third team is on the way to provide further medical assistance and some training in the use of donated items and safety rules for local families to endure the winter.

Leading the third group was veteran Jens Sommerfeld, member of the first two-man aid team, who provided first aid during the initial weeks after the October 8th earthquake struck Northern Pakistan. Completing the team are club-mate Michael Jürgens, and Dr. Thomas Gündel from Frankfurt.

How to help?

Alpinclub Sachsen team:


Mail pakistanhilfe@gmx.de if you want to help. Find also a bank account set up for donations to the project at www.alpinclub.com

Alpinclub Sachsen e.V.
Donation account Pakistan
Account Holder: Alpinclub Sachsen e.V.
Account Number: 030 866 28 02
BLZ 850 800 00
Dresdner Bank AG IBAN DE39 850 800 00
SWIFT DRES DE FF


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