x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Pakistani expats call home after quake

Pakistan's 7.1 magnitude earthquake triggered a series of frantic phone calls from Pakistani expatriates living in the UAE, keen to ensure their relatives back home were not hurt.

DUBAI // Pakistani expatriates in the Emirates made frantic calls yesterday morning to friends and family back home in the aftermath of the 7.1 magnitude earthquake.

The UAE has a population of 1.2 million Pakistani expats, and most have strong ties back home.

"I had slept through it, but my family told me what happened and we called our relatives back in Pakistan to make sure they were OK," said Fahad Qazi, 29, a Sharjah resident who works at the Dubai International Airport. "Thank God they are fine, but I'm very worried about people in Dalbandin, which is so far from help.

"I will be saying prayers for those affected and will be sending money to NGOs to help them carry out relief work."

He has family in Islamabad, the capital, and Quetta, which lies about 320 kilometres from the quake's epicentre. He said he was unsure how emergency services would be able to cope, as they were still dealing with the aftermath of the floods that devastated large parts of the country last summer.

Others expressed concern about not being able to contact relatives.

"I'm deeply saddened by what has happened in Pakistan," said Fazal Lisharie, 66, an executive member of the Pakistan Association of Dubai (PAD). "I am trying to get in contact with a friend from the region but haven't been able to so far. This is yet another tragedy that has happened to the country in the last six months following the floods."

Muhammed Azeem, PAD's vice president, expressed his condolences to those affected by the earthquake and said the association would do what it could to help.