TV crews see trauma and desperation in quake zone

By Caitlin Pike

Journalists reporting from Pakistan say reporting the earthquake has
been even more difficult than covering the Asian tsunami and the
aftermath of Hurricane Rita.

Channel 4 News’s Jon Snow, who is has been reporting from Islamabad,
told Press Gazette that the conditions were some of the most
challenging he had known. He said: “It is just very, very difficult.

Travelling is near impossible, with journeys towards the epicentre of the earthquake taking more than nine hours.

“Helicopters
are the only way but they are, of course, needed for the relief effort.
It’s really down to chance as to whether you can get material on air.”

BBC
special correspondent Ben Brown, in Muzaffarabad, said survivors were
telling him and other journalists to make sure the world knew of their
plight. “We, along with all the people who have lost their homes, are
sleeping outside,” he said.

“There are so many aftershocks that it is too dangerous to go near any buildings that are left, they just keep shaking. Torrential rain and lightning have made bad conditions even worse.”

He
added that reporting on the tsunami, New Orleans and now the Pakistan
earthquake had made him more prepared for the aftermath of natural
disasters. “I am better dealing with the sight of the massive loss of
lives, dead bodies strewn everywhere.”

CNN’s senior foreign
correspondent Matthew Chance found people so desperate that they turned
to journalists for help. “The northern town of Balakot was home to
250,000 people but now it’s flattened. On the ground, we were greeted
with mayhem.

“Survivors believed we had tents and medicine for
their families and scrambled for our bags. We had to struggle to get
them back, we had to explain we had nothing and had come here alone.

It’s not what people this desperate want to hear. ‘Where is the Pakistani army?’  they screamed. ‘Why aren’t they here to save us yet?'”

CNN,
which now has more than 20 staff in the area, broke the news on the
quake on Saturday at 5.01am British time. A spokeswoman said that
deploying staff into the mountainous regions affected by the quake
presented a considerable logistical challenge but that it had used all
technical and human assets at its disposal.

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