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Into the eye of a storm

On Saturday 21 August, I embarked on my journey to Islamabad, Pakistan. My job in Pakistan will be to gather information about the floods and what Concern is doing to help those affected.

The weather is still atrocious and I got an indication of how serious the storms are here before my plane even touched the ground.

Reunion

On the second leg of my journey, I was sitting beside Ambreen who is the first qualified female Pakistani heart surgeon. She currently works in Boston and was returning home to see her husband and son whom she hasn’t seen for nine months. Her visit was going to be a surprise as her son’s first birthday was the following day.

Stormy weather

The flight started out normally, but as we got closer to Islamabad, we started flying into a storm. Lightning outside the window threatened to strike and the plane started shaking uncontrollably. It makes you think how insubstantial a plane really is and how insubstantial people’s homes are too, when the weather is so unrelenting.

The atmosphere became edgy as people around me were gripping their seats, praying, closing their eyes trying to think of something else. Only weeks earlier a plane crashed into the Margalla Hills in Islamabad instantly killing 152 people. I’m sure pictures of this incident started flashing through everyone’s minds.

Limited fuel

The captain informed us of the storm in our flight path and that we had two hours of fuel left, he also said we may have to land in Lahore (four hours from Islamabad) instead if the weather didn’t improve.

Landing

By some miracle, two and half hours later, when I’m sure we had nearly drained all the remaining fuel from the tank, the storm subsided and we land safely in Islamabad. Ambreen will be able to attend her son’s birthday party and so begins my adventure in Pakistan.

One of my first tasks will be to visit the worst affected areas. I’ll be blogging about that soon.