Quake survivors ?need our help


FOR Teja Grewal, the border between India and Pakistan is nothing more than a line on a map when it comes to helping survivors of the weekend's devastating earthquake that has killed about 20,000.

Mr Grewal, a member of Woolgoolga's Sikh community, said the earthquake that struck on the Pakistan side of the border in the disputed Kashmir area was the main talking point at the town's two temples on Sunday.

He said the local Punjabis, whose roots are close to the area devastated by the 7.6 magnitude quake, will band together to raise money to help survivors.

"It is very, very said," Mr Grewal said of the quake, which was felt across large parts of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.

"I have been watching the television coverage and India has offered to help Pakistan, which is the right thing to do.

"We will do some fundraising here and send the money to the groups who are helping people there."

Mr Grewal said a niece living as far away as Delhi had told him buildings there had been shaken by the quake but there had been little damage.

Punjab, from where most of the local Sikh families migrated and where they still have relatives, is immediately to the south of Indian-controlled Kashmir.

The epicentre of the Saturday's earthquake was across the border in Pakistan, 100 kilometres north of the capital Islamabad.

Prime Minister John Howard yesterday encouraged Australians to dig deep to help the people of Pakistan, as he foreshadowed further government assistance.

Australia offered another $5 million to help those affected by the quake, adding to an initial donation of $500,000 to provide shelter and medical assistance.

Along with the 20,000 believed to have died, more than 42,000 others are estimated to have been injured after the quake destroyed entire towns and buried victims in mud and rubble.

Mr Howard offered the nation's condolences to the people of Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.

"On behalf of the parliament and the people of Australia, I do offer our deepest condolences to the victims of these earthquakes," he told parliament.

Mr Howard indicated Australia would prepared to offer further help and encouraged individuals to do the same.

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