In the third week of recovery from the disaster that some call "bigger than the tsunami," Christian relief organizations are heightening their relief response to the historic earthquake that shook Pakistan and its neighboring countries.
Within the last few days, thousands of tents, blankets, medicines and urgent supplies have been shipped to the affected areas to be distributed to exhausted and traumatized victims. Among the Christian groups intensifying their response is Samaritan's Purse, who conducted the largest airlift in its history yesterday.
On Oct. 24, Samaritan's Purse shipped 120 tons of greatly needed supplies including enough rolls of plastic to shelter up to 24,000 families, hospital equipments, medicines, 350 wheelchairs, 10,000 blankets via a Boeing 747 - the largest domestic cargo plane in the United States. The plane will fly 7,800 miles and land in Islamabad where supplies will be distributed in Balakot and Muzzaffarabad, the two cities closest to the epicenter of the earthquake.
"The equipment and supplies loaded on this plane will help save lives and alleviate suffering," said Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham in a statement. "The people in Pakistan are literally out in the cold right now and the help and resources they need aren't readily available."
The 747 jet cargo was scheduled for departure at 1 p.m. EST on Monday, Oct. 24.
In addition, Baptist World Aid (BWAid)/Hungarian Baptist Aid (HBAid) in a combined effort has donated more than $90,000 to relief efforts and supplies and the third relief team is now in Pakistan. The team consists of medical doctors, paramedics, technical rescue experts, rescue dogs, a rescue commander and an HBAid coordinator. The team has been searching for survivors since their arrival, one day after the massive quake on Oct. 9, as well as treating hundreds of injured people.
"There are over three million people who lost their homes. They live in tents provided by the international community or still in the open air in the freezing cold in the mountainous areas," said Attila Szilagyi, senior relief officer of Hungarian Baptist aid in a statement released by BWAid. "Baptists want to share in helping the needy victims of this earthquake. We plan to set up a camp with at least 200 tents for some 1,200 - 1,500 people. We need to move quickly to help them live through the winter."
"By our rescue efforts and technical resources, by providing medical care and humanitarian aid, and by organizing a team of Baptists from North Carolina, Virginia and Hungary we believe BWAid Rescue24 is on the road to be an effective first responders group," commented Sandor Szenczy, HBAid's president.
Moreover, World Vision has airlifted 4,000 tents and over 12,000 tarpaulins last week, while Church World Service¡VAction by Churches Together (CWS-ACT) has distributed 1,297 shelter kits and 993 food packages.
"Everything has been sent by Christians in this country to show God's love to the people of Pakistan," noted Graham.