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Earthquake - one year on

Jonathan Aspinwall Jonathan Aspinwall | 12:07 UK time, Friday, 29 September 2006

One of our biggest stories in recent times was the earthquake in South Asia last year.

BBC Asian Network logoMore than 73,000 people died and around 3 million were made homeless when the quake happened last October. The majority of victims were in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, where I'm leading a small team to investigate the damage and catch up with the survivors who spoke to our breakfast show one year ago.

Just after the quake, we opened up the phonelines to hear from British Asians who had relatives in the region. We were inundated with calls from people unable to contact their sisters, brothers, parents and children. Over the last year we've kept in touch with some of those listeners to find out what happened to their relatives.

And while it's slipped off the national news agenda, it's still a massive topic of conversation amongst Muslims in cities like Bradford. Our listeners tell us that it's one of those defining stories for a whole generation with big repercussions for Asians back here in the UK.

The Asian Network recently revamped its output so that it reflects the lives of 20 to 35 year-old, second and third generation British Asians. It's been a period of heavy reflection. What kind of news are young British Asians interested in? How does the anniversary of the earthquake story fit in with that remit? Our Breakfast Show is a mix of music, news and chat - a tricky balance to get right on a heavy news day.

When we first mooted covering the aftermath of the Quake we discussed whether disaster fatigue would mean that this story is a big turn off. I'm heartened to say that already it seems the audience disagree with that depressing theory. Loads of listeners have been contacting Sonia Deol's breakfast show via e-mail and our website with their ideas on what we should cover.

They've got real concerns about where the money they donated went so we're investigating reports of corruption. They also wanted us to catch up with the thousands of children who were orphaned by the quake and they requested to hear some "good news" stories about extraordinary acts of generosity.

One of my favourites is the tale of the Yorkshire school children who were so shocked by what they saw that they raised £35,000 to build a new school in the quake-damaged region. We'll be linking up the two schools in Pakistan and Halifax live on-air. Hopefully we'll be able to answer some of our listeners' questions and shed some light on the reality of life in quake zone one year on. I'll keep you posted.


  • 1.
  • At 09:09 PM on 30 Sep 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

How lucky for news reporters that there is no shortage of disasters to report on and to follow up on for months and years aferwards. In a few months, it will be Tsunami anniversary time again. We've just had hurricane Katrina, 9-11, and 7-7 anniversaries before that. I don't know if there is disaster fatigue but I'm getting disaster story fatigue, especially disaster anniversary story fatigue. I think I liked it better when you heard about a disaster somewhere in a remote part of the world, saw a few pictures and that was the end of it. Maybe the stories about the new born Pandas and gold royal rocking horse weren't so bad after all.

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