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Hopelessness Descends Over Quake Victims

Rai, a soft-spoken native of Nepal, is one of the top students at the college, his friends said, and despite being reserved, he has a wry sense of humor.

The students planned to drive from Abbottabad to Garhi Habibullah, a sprawling town at the bottom of a high, narrow ridge separating the disputed province of Kashmir from the rest of Pakistan. From there they would take vehicles rented by a charity called the United Nations Association of Pakistan up the rugged dirt track ending in the village of Shaheed Galik. There, they hoped to establish a first-aid camp to help stabilize villagers walking down the mountain en route to a field hospital run by army and civilian doctors in Garhi Habibullah.

Transferring to a black Jeep, they crossed a bridge and rumbled off the paved road onto a rocky path. For the next half-hour, it wound higher and higher past cliffs covered in gold-colored grass and soaring fir trees. Spectacular purple and white peaks loomed in the distance.

But the natural beauty was marred by the signs of human misery at every turn: Mud huts were flattened, improvised tents teemed with dazed villagers. There were large fissures in the road where the quake had pulled the ground apart; in the valley below, the students could see the vast field of rubble that was once the scenic city of Muzaffarabad.

At Shaheed Galik, they were pleased to discover that a doctor and two businessmen had already set up a table with free medicine for villagers in need. There was also a man with a long beard belonging to the Islamic group Jamaat ul-Dawa, a reconstituted version of the Islamic group Lashkar-i-Taiba, which the Pakistani government has outlawed for alleged links to terrorism. He had traveled with an ambulance belonging to the group.

However, there was no sign of a government or international presence.

Egeland said he thought the international response thus far was "not bad," adding, "Tens of thousands of tents, hundreds of thousands of tons of emergency food, a million blankets and other relief goods are in the pipeline."

"We have seen a much graver picture and I believe we need to triple the number of helicopters in the operation," Egeland said. "My appeal to the world is to come up with more aid, more relief and more resources."

The United Nations has appealed for $272 million for six months of emergency aid, and so far about 30 countries, including the United States, have pledged assistance of one form or another. U.S. helicopters diverted from military operations in neighboring Afghanistan have already begun shuttling supplies and evacuating injured.

Back at Shaheed Galik, the students were debating where they should establish their first-aid camp.

"We need to make sure it's not near any walls, in case there is another jolt," said Jazed Mahmood, a 23-year-old with wire-rimmed glasses and a mature air. Aftershocks to the Saturday earthquake have been frequent.

Suddenly, a red off-road vehicle loaded with blankets and water screeched into the main square. Several men jumped out, one of them sobbing. They were volunteers from the city of Lahore, they called out, and said they had just been attacked by residents of the village one stop over when they refused to hand over all their supplies.


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