OTSUCHI, Iwate Prefecture (Kyodo) Warm dishes filled with the scent of curry spices cheered up exhausted evacuees at a shelter in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture — one of the areas most severely hit by the March 11 catastrophic earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

A group of 17 Muslims from an Islamic center in Kasugai, Aichi Prefecture, traveled to the northeastern town, more than 600 km away, to prepare dishes of curry, rice and nan in hope that the evacuees “eat plentifully and get well soon.”

“Aren’t you cold? Are you feeling well?” the curry “chefs” said to the evacuees while serving the meals.

For the evacuees spending days in the freezing cold amid a food shortage, the hot meals with plenty of meat were heartwarming.

The members, who also stayed overnight at the community center along with the evacuees, made a total of 1,800 meals. The following day they served 900 dishes at a nearby high school.

“My heart aches to see the situation surrounding the quake victims,” said Ahmad Mushtaq, 40, from Pakistan.

“It’s natural to help anybody in need regardless of their ethnicity or religion. I want them to eat delicious food and get warm physically and also in their hearts.”

The Muslim group decided quickly to drive a truck with bulk ingredients, big soup pans and other cooking utensils to a quake-ravaged area after seeing on TV the serious conditions many evacuees are coping with in cold temperatures and with insufficient food, its members said.

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