1. Jacobson, Joy

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Since the magnitude 7.6 earthquake hit Kashmir on October 8, claiming at least 87,000 lives, relief efforts have been hampered, despite the work of governments and other agencies worldwide, by treacherous terrain and obliterated roads. Relief workers have compared the devastation to that wrought by the Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004: despite its higher death toll, last year's disaster affected coastal areas, which were much easier to reach than are the mountains of Kashmir, a bitterly contested and divided region governed on one side by India and on the other by Pakistan.


"We pass over a lot of tiny villages where they obviously have wounded people," said Olivier Moeckli, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to Reuters. "We see people waving clothes and asking us to stop, but there's nowhere to land."


In Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, only one 50-bed hospital was operating immediately after the disaster. Two weeks later eight hospitals were functioning, with a total of just 700 beds. And while some hospitalized patients who had been evacuated from rural areas begged to be returned to their families, some patients were refusing to leave hospitals once treated. They no longer had homes to go to, and the hospitals gave them what they needed most as winter encroached on the Himalayan foothills: shelter.


On October 20 Jan Egeland, the United Nations relief coordinator, urged world leaders to do more to rescue the hundreds of thousands of people still in need of help. On October 25 the U.S. Army set up a mobile hospital outside Muzaffarabad to provide surgical and critical care, and the World Health Organization reported that an "early warning and response network" had been set up to allow quick response to outbreaks of infectious disease.

FIGURE. Sergeant Kor... - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE. Sergeant Kornelia Rachwal, of the U.S. Army's 12th Aviation Brigade, comforts a young Pakistani earthquake victim being airlifted from Muzaffarabad to Islamabad, Pakistan, aboard a CH-47 Chinook helicopter on October 19. The Associated Press reported in late October that 1,000 children had been evacuated from Kashmir for medical care.