Until this month, the Ismail family, like other residents of the tidy complex in this city reserved for Pakistani state radio employees, considered themselves middle-class, privileged people. They had solid incomes and solid homes in a region where thousands of rural people live in poverty.

But now, their community has been transformed by a massive earthquake into an apocalyptic landscape of broken concrete and warped metal.

One of the few items the Ismails were able to salvage from the wreckage of their house -- a small black radio -- has been forecasting frequent rain showers. Adding insult to injury, they have not even been able to get hold of a plastic tent to protect their children from the constant, cold drizzle that signals the fast-approaching Kashmiri winter. Every time relief trucks loaded with supplies pull up, there is a chaotic, unseemly scramble, and the piles of tents vanish.

"We're respectable people. We can't run after trucks like that," said Mohammed Ismail, 52, a retired noncommissioned officer in the army who works as a security guard for the radio station.

Ali Zuman Batt, 38, a neighbor who is also a security guard and retired army officer, said he had asked both the army and the fire department for a tent. To his surprise and dismay, both turned him away.

The Ismails, like the Batts, have been left to fend for themselves. On Friday, after nearly a week of sleeping under a tree, they began trying to build a shed around it. Mohammed's wife, Amber, 38, was too swollen and bruised to help much. At the moment of the quake, she had been on the second floor of the house when it collapsed around her. But Mohammed and the couple's three children, plus two nieces and a nephew, all pitched in.

They did not have much to work with. There was a large plastic sheet, barely thicker than cellophane, that relief workers had dropped by earlier in the day. There were some metal grates and twisted steel poles poking out of the enormous piles of rubble all around them.

After about an hour of tugging and balancing and fastening, the family had erected a four-foot tent that sagged precariously in the center.

"I don't think this is going to keep us dry," said Amber, pointing to a rip in the plastic above her head. "But what else can we do?"

Her son, Mohammed Tahir, 15, was bitter. "This was the government's responsibility first," he said.

So it went across northeastern Pakistan on Friday, as thousands of families continued to search for shelter six days after the earthquake left an estimated 2 million people in the region homeless.

The quake, which also affected parts of Indian-held Kashmir, killed an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 people.

The magnitude of the challenge was evident all along the winding mountain road into Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-held Kashmir, which was largely flattened.

Clusters of women and children squatted in fields beside the road amid piles of bedclothes and pillows. Several miles outside the city, a crowd of men surged around a gray van as private volunteers tossed out bundled blue tents. The supply was exhausted within seconds.

Back in the Ismails' tent, several family members bemoaned the lesser indignities of their new, reduced circumstances -- no showers, no change of clothes in days.

Under the plastic tarp, Rosina,18, the oldest girl, lit a candle as the sky darkened. Just then, four men wearing green turbans and long black beards approached. They were from Dawa Islamia, an association of Islamic preachers and missionaries, the men told Mohammed. They said they would be delivering a tent Saturday morning.

"Oh, thank God!" exhaled Rosina.

But her father was already thinking of the winter ahead. "This tent will serve us for one, maybe two months at most," Mohammed said. "But when the snow comes. . . ."

Correspondent John Lancaster in Islamabad contributed to this report.

People from villages in the mountains of Pakistan's part of Kashmir hiked across the broken landscape, many with dead or injured loved ones, in hopes of getting medical care and food in the town of Balakot.A woman in Balakot holds an IV for her relative, who was to be airlifted to a hospital on Thursday. Balakot had only a few tents to treat the injured.Binod Rai, a medical student, tends to the wounds of 5-year-old Azmat Bibi in the mountain village of Hariala.With mountain roads destroyed by the quake, many people were forced to take a long, tortuous trek before reaching assistance. Rescue workers and residents work together to try to find people trapped in the rubble of Balakot, which lay in ruin after a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck in Pakistani-held Kashmir last Saturday.