Above The Rubble

A magnitude 7.6 earthquake rocked Pakistan and the mountainous region of Kashmir October 8th, 2005, killing 80,000 people and leaving 3.5 million homeless. These photographs document a glimpse into the aftermath as survivors deal with the grief of losing loved ones and livelihoods. Lack of shelter, food, water and medical help are a daily concern as they attempt to rebuild their lives. Recapturing the community, rebuilding homes and restarting schools are the priorities for these strong and determined people trying to regain a sense of normalcy while facing the harsh uncertainty of a fast-approaching winter.

Men pray on what was once the roof of a four-story mosque in the Pakistan city of Balakot. Mohammed Nazir, the mosque’s imam said, “God has tested us this time. There is something better in the future.” And yet others in Balakot felt that God was punishing them. ©Thomas James Hurst/The Seattle Times
Ashib Fazal, 4 suffered a broken nose when he fell fleeing his home during the earthquake that killed thousands. Fazal and his father travel regularly from a neighboring village to have the wound cleaned and the bandage changed. ©Thomas James Hurst/The Seattle Times
Relatives carry Sheik Kala Khan, 75, to the Human Development Foundation’s base-camp hospital. Now, two months after the quake, camp doctors are seeing more routine cases than traumatic ones – infections instead of broken legs. ©Thomas James Hurst/The Seattle Times
Maboob Khan stands next to his front door – all that remains of his house, one of thousands that dotted village mountainsides, but are now piles of rubble or too damaged to inhabit. ©Thomas James Hurst/The Seattle Times
A small boy presses against the thin synthetic walls of a hospital tent while waiting to be seen by doctors. ©Thomas James Hurst/The Seattle Times
Hafeeza Zaheen, center front, keeps a small cooking fire burning in her livestock stable, where family members gather for warmth and community. The earthquake that claimed thousands also killed her youngest child. Her 9-year-old son Basit, second from the left, suffers from tuberculosis and may not make it through the winter. ©Thomas James Hurst/The Seattle Times
Women from the village of the mountainous village of Puthian in the Kashmir region of Pakistan, carry large silver urns of water from a nearby well perched atop their heads. Most villagers in the mountainous village of Puthian are living in nylon or canvas tents that were provided after the quake. With their homes destroyed they will be hard pressed to have them rebuilt before the onset of winter. ©Thomas James Hurst/The Seattle Times
At the Government High School, for children up to grade 10, some younger students assemble for studies outdoors. Other students meet in the school’s less-damaged classrooms ©Thomas James Hurst/The Seattle Times
Eighty-three ninth-graders study algebra in a math class taught by Muhammad Idrees. An aisle in the middle of the classroom divides the girls from the boys. Classes are being held in some of the less damaged classrooms; however, students must now be squeezed tightly together so that they can share the few desks and books that remain. ©Thomas James Hurst/The Seattle Times
Gul Majeed, center, and his wife, Anyot Jan, remove dirt and rocks from what remains of their home, aided by neighbor Maboob Khan. The couple will use the fragile structure to shelter their cattle and livestock, which are crucial to their own survival. ©Thomas James Hurst/The Seattle Times
Hafeeza Zaheen’s surviving daughter, Muqatas, 7, runs along a footpath in the Puthian, where the elevation ranges from 5,000 to 6,700 feet. With winter descending, many lack proper shelter and sufficient food. ©Thomas James Hurst/The Seattle Times
Mohammad Niaz throws stones from a collapsed house into a pile of rocks he’ll use to build another home. Almost every house in the village of Puthian was damaged or destroyed. ©Thomas James Hurst/The Seattle Times
Hafezza Zaheen, who lost her five-year-old daughter, Sultana, in the earthquake, comforts her young nephew Isran Liqat, whose mother was also killed. Liqat, 3, now lives with his father, in his grandfather’s home; however, the women in the village of Puthian shower the boy with love and attention. ©Thomas James Hurst/The Seattle Times
Raja Mohammad Saghar, 80, lugs pieces of lumber up the mountain to build a new home for his family. Although many are living in canvas and synthetic tents provided by the government and aid organizations following the earthquake, the thin-skinned shelters will not provide adequate protection from freezing temperatures winter will bring. ©Thomas James Hurst/The Seattle Times
Hafezza Zaheen, second from the right, is shown the story and photos published in the Seattle Times newspaper about her, her family, and her village months earlier. Aid workers traveling to and from their headquarters in the Pacific Northwest to the Kashmir region saved the news story so they can share it with her and her village when they returned back to the village of Puthian in the Spring.