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Aftershocks dent victims' psyche

By M I Jehangir in Srinagar
October 14, 2005 16:52 IST
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Experts on Friday said it will be a long time before victims of the Kashmir quake can get over the trauma.

A series of aftershocks over the last six days have also brought back the pain and fear of the devastation unleashed by the October 8 temblor.

"As many as 41 aftershocks have been recorded since the 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck on that fateful Saturday morning," director of meteorological department L C Ram said.

At least one aftershock has been recorded everyday, except Wednesday, since then.

The tremors have rendered many survivors in need of psychiatric help as each time a tremor strikes, it resurrects images of horror and destruction among them, a doctor attending a Srinagar hospital, said.

"During these aftershocks, which have mostly occurred at night, some patients just jump out of their beds fearing a repeat of Saturday's destruction," Doctor M M Haque said.

There are others, who would cry inconsolably even if someone were to shake their beds, he said. Medecins Sans Fronteirs (Doctors Without Borders), an international NGO has set up three counselling centres in Srinagar and Kupwara to help people overcome their fears.

"Five to ten quake-affected people suffering from post traumatic stress disorders arrive at this centre daily but I think there are many more who need counselling," Dr Shahnawaz Gazi, a MSF counsellor, said.

Gazi said there were some patients who are in such a state of shock that they are not able to speak anymore while others are still stuck in the time of the quake as they have lost their loved ones.

"Physical wounds will heal and would be visible but the injury to psyche take quite some time to go and can be felt only in the behaviour," he observed.

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M I Jehangir in Srinagar
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