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Family treks home to heartbreak

By Kyung Lah, CNN
  • Ghous Chacher and wife Nasibaan escaped when the floods hit their home town
  • As they start the trek home he says: I need to know what happened
  • They completed the 70 km trek on foot, tractor and by boat
  • Only to discover their home was destroyed by the Pakistan floods

Karampur, Pakistan (CNN) -- Traffic packs the road leading to Karampur, Pakistan. Never mind that the road remains closed to cars.

Tractors, bicycles and hundreds of people on foot are trying to make it home for the first time since the floods struck the country.

The water remains half a meter deep on the road, though water marks on the brick buildings show it was much deeper.

For Ghous Chacher and his wife Nasibaan, the deep water means they need to hoist their bundles of clothes and food higher so they don't get contaminated by the flood water.

They were last on this road 16 days ago, running away much faster than the careful pace they keep now.

The flood came so quickly, explained Chacher, that he only had time to grab his family and flee with whatever they could carry in their arms.

Chacher and his family stayed at a refugee camp in Sukkur, the nearest large city, where the landscape is now dotted by tent city after tent city.

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  • Pakistan
  • Floods
  • Natural Disasters

When they heard the water was receding in Karampur, they bought some food, wrapped up some clothes into bundles, and started walking home -- about 70 kilometers (43 miles).

"I need to know," says Chacher. "I need to know what happened to my house."

Like slow waves, the road leading to Karampur began filling with evacuees, seeking to answer that same question.

Those with money paid dump truck drivers and tractor owners for a ride. Those without money waded in bare feet through the contaminated water.

The Chachers waited for a truck, but each one was filled with passengers. So they began to walk. As they hit water above their knees, a tractor with a trailer drives up. It has room.

Already in the trailer are Soomri Banglani and her four-year-old daughter. They make room for the Chachers.

Banglani begins to cry as she talks about her journey. My husband is dead, she says. She wishes she didn't have to do this on her own.

"But we have no choice," she added, holding her frightened daughter closer. "What can we do?"

Banglani and the Chachers stop speaking as the tractor slows. There's another tractor on its side and a dozen young men are trying to lift it.

It appears that tractor misjudged the width of the road, concealed by the muddy flood water.

For Pakistan's food-strapped flood victims the accident is one more misfortune in the disaster. The tractor's cargo of dozens of chickens is all dead

The Chachers' tractor drives around the accident and moves on until the water is too deep to go any further.

The couple jumps out and starts walking, but it's too deep. A man offers them a boat ride for a small fare.

They jump in and begin the final leg home along a road what is now essentially a river.

Houses surround the boat, submerged in a meter of water. A local resident who stayed tells them no aid has reached this community. There was one air drop but the food missed its mark and landed in the dirty flood water.

Nasibaan Chacher's face is suddenly frozen. They've arrived home.

Ghous Chacher jumps into the water. It comes up to his chest.

"Nothing, nothing," moans Nasibaan. She wades into her living room, and comes out with scissors and a drawer. "This is it."

Her husband is outside, watching. He looks up at the sky and then back down at the water. He sits down in the muddy water and closes his eyes. The water is surrounding him.

He has his answer about the fate of his house.

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