A reporter from the Swindon Advertiser saw the devastation of the Pakistan earthquake for himself when he travelled there with a local shopkeeper who lost 20 members of his family in the disaster.
Journalist Kevin Shoesmith accompanied Azim Khan on a five-day trip to the small town of Battal.
Sleeping in a tent for the duration of the trip, Kevin got a small glimpse of what life is like for those who lost their homes in the earthquake on October 8 – and experienced aftershocks including one tremor, on the first night, which measured six on the Richter scale.
Kevin, (24), said: “That was pretty scary. I got about eight hours sleep on the whole trip because of the aftershocks.
“Staying in a tent was very uncomfortable, but if I had stayed in a four or five star hotel I wouldn’t have been able to get the copy that I did – you have to live the story.”
During the trip Kevin toured the 30 villages of Battal speaking to survivors, and saw how they were living in squalid conditions with no sanitation and no electricity.
He said: “Not a single building was standing and there were some horrific tales.
“I saw a school where it looked as though time had stopped – school bags were still on the desks and the date was still on the chalk board. It had an eerie feel to it.
“The whole trip was a massive eye-opener. When I was travelling back from Heathrow to Swindon the train was delayed and I saw irate commuters – but this was just a small inconvenience compared with what I saw and it puts your own problems into perspective.”
Kevin and Azim also helped distribute aid, and found that shelter, rather than food and water, is what is most needed.
The Pakistan army says deaths related to the cold are inevitable without tents as there is not enough time to rebuild buildings before winter.
Kevin said: “When I initially headed out there two weeks after the earthquake I thought I would see rebuilding and people starting to get back on their feet, but it is still a town in mourning.”