BHUJ, India, Jan. 29 (AP) - Dr. Mihir Meghani came from Fremont, Calif. to India to attend the Kumbh Mela, the world's largest religious gathering, with his parents.
Instead, the emergency medical specialist is treating patients in a makeshift hospital camp in a town near the epicenter of India's biggest quake in 50 years.
"I was going to go and bathe in the Ganges," he said. Hindu scriptures say that "to serve man is to serve God," he added. "I thought I could do more by coming here."
When Meghani heard about the earthquake, he changed his travel plans, caught a plane and hitched some rides into the earthquake zone in western Gujarat state. Along with 45 volunteer Indian doctors and nurses, he is working to treat survivors who are being pulled from the wreckage of Bhuj.
"We have seen people who were found today from the rubble. We have seen people amputated here today, and people with fractures," he said.
Bhuj's main hospital was destroyed in the earthquake. The doctors in the tent clinic, where the injured lie on wooden tables set in the dust, estimate they have treated at least 1,500 people since Friday.
Most have trauma injuries, said Dr. Rajesh Makadiya, who normally works at the cancer hospital in Ahmedabad, the commercial center of Gujarat state, which was hardest hit by Friday's magnitude 7.9 earthquake.
"We have seen total amputation, head injuries," he said, as he bandaged the foot of a young girl.
"I think there will be few new injured people," he said. "Soon we will just be dealing with the evacuation of the dead bodies."