Scenes of horror from the East Pakistani refugee roads into India. Along the roadsides, shallow?
Scenes of horror from the East Pakistani refugee roads into India. Along the roadsides, shallow graves have been dug for the hasty burial of cholera victims. But when Anthony Lawrence and his BBC team visited the area, they found the dog and vultures squabbling over the graves, competing for a meal of human flesh.
At the refugee hospital in nearby Krishnanagar, Lawrence fonda more optimistic situation. The doctors now have enough saline injections to combat the cholera outbreak. But in the surrounding camp, partly flooded by monsoon rain, the risk of disease is still alarmingly present.
Lawrence's commentary, overlaying natural sound of the refugee camp and hospital, accompanies this film and is transcribed on our own commentary page.
SYNOPSIS: Things could of course get worse again, with a new influx of sick refugees from East Pakistan. Several thousands have died. And many more will die in the coming days. But a hospital like this, in Krishnanagar town, looks very different from even a few days ago. They have enough saline injections now. Yesterday, fifty cases admitted -- six deaths. Today, forty cases -- no deaths so far.
There's a mystery about this epidemic. Some doctors say it isn't cholera at all, but some similar disease. None of the early tests actually confirmed it was cholera. Whatever the disease, vaccination is considered just as important -- all the people in the camps queueing up for shots clinics in the villages.
Nightmarish things have happened in these last days. Along this road from the border, one of many routes to safety, the refugees struggled exhausted. Some set up their camps -- their wretched little tents of matting. But others stricken by the cholera, died by the roadside and were hastily buried there. Too hastily -- and in graves too shallow.
You see it in the noonday sunshine, with people working in the fields not very far away. It's not beyond all control -- the authorities are sending teams to clean things up and not leave everything to the scavenger dogs and the vultures, waiting silently under the trees.
The risk of disease is always there. It is there in the camps and the watery mud and misery the monsoon rains are bringing. Overall, this is still a deeply disturbing situation in human terms. Black times lay ahead. with more doctors now and more medicine things certainly look not so hopeless as they did a week ago.