Fremont's Afghan community worried about family members after deadly earthquake

David Louie Image
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Fremont man finally hears from wife in Afghanistan
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Farid Asefi finally got through to his wife who lives in Afghanistan with their 4-year-old daughter and found out their home collapsed.

FREMONT, Calif. (KGO) -- Over 300 people have been killed after a massive earthquake rattled south Asia. The 7.5 magnitude earthquake was centered in a remote area of eastern Afghanistan.

The majority of the people killed were in Pakistan and at least 33 people were killed in Afghanistan. Officials there said they will not ask for help from the international community.

Prepare NorCal: Disaster preparedness resources

Many Afghans in Fremont are hungry for information from their loved ones.

A Fremont resident told ABC7 News a family member in Afghanistan said the shaking from the earthquake lasted nearly three minutes.

Some reports indicate at least 4,000 homes were destroyed in Afghanistan.

Fremont is home to a large community of immigrants from Afghanistan. Their cluster of shops and restaurants, mostly along Fremont Boulevard is known as Little Kabul.

The anxiety was mounting all day Monday for Farid Asefi as he worked at an oil change shop in Fremont's Little Kabul district. As of Monday afternoon, he said he hadn't heard from his wife and 4-year-old daughter who live near the epicenter of the earthquake. Then, later Monday evening, Asefi finally got through to his wife. His wife and child survived the trauma of it all, but it is clearly taking a toll. Their home was among those that collapsed.

"She can't even talk, that's not my wife's voice I know," Asefi told ABC7 News. "Her house has [fallen] down you know, the rooms, but they run into the mountain and that was it. My daughter fell down a few times I guess, that was it."

Fremont resident Sayda Najmudin is recounting what her cousin told her over the phone. She lives in a large apartment complex in Kabul where those who could run out into the streets did so. Those who couldn't, just hoped for the best.

"The room was shaking so hard, so if they were moving this way, they were moving to the other side," Najmudin said. "When they were moving, they were going sideways and it was very difficult because she had her grandkids with her, so they just stayed inside, just prayed."

Many immigrant families are in the same situation. Little Kabul Market has become an information clearing house as some do connect with their loved ones in Afghanistan. "Epicenter where it happened, one school fell down. Twelve students got killed right away. A lot of houses they said were destroyed. A lot of roads, you know everything is almost gone," Little Kabul Market owner Asad Saleh said.

READ MORE: Bay Area earthquake tracker

That means survivors will need help, but the hard-hit areas are in the mountains. The houses are made of mud and unable to withstand a powerful earthquake.

As they bake Afghanistan bread in the back of the Little Kabul Market, they worry what their relatives will do for food and water.

There's talk of local fund raising to help with relief efforts, but it's unclear what is needed and how much since communications have been spotty.

An Afghan immigrant named David Andarobi said he has tried to contact family, but couldn't get a hold of anyone and is worried. Because of the time difference, many said they were hoping to hear from their families on Monday night.

Now, the prayers are focused on the rescues and eventually recovery. The war-torn region finds itself having to rebuild yet again.