Home > 10 years on: Zeroing in on Ground Zero

10 years on: Zeroing in on Ground Zero

Sirens to sound throug­hout Muzaff­arabad at 8:52am and events to be held to mark the traged­y and rememb­er the victim­s



Ten years after the October 8, 2005 earthquake The Express Tribune takes a look at the places and the lives which were altered forever. Despite the massive influx of foreign assistance and aid, many promises have not been kept.

Today, Pakistan will observe National Disaster Day. In Muzaffarabad, the AJK capital, which was ground-zero, sirens will sound throughout the valley at 8:52am and events will be held to mark the tragedy and remember the victims.

Thousands of survivors of the earthquake in Balakot tehsil continue to wait for the assistance they had been promised back in 2005, after their town was literally erased from the map.

The government had promised to rebuild the Balakot city. Regrettably however, 10 years after the quake struck, Balakot’s reconstruction is far from complete, because of “paucity of funds and lack of coordination between the federal and provincial governments”.

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Muhammad Bashir’s voice has lingering traces of hope as he describes his son Yasir, his red cheeks and shining black hair. Yasir, then 13-years old, had gone missing after the 2005 earthquake.

“I still believe my son will come back, but I don’t know how many more years it will take [to find him],”Bashir laments. The devastating earthquake  had killed more than 73,000 people, wounded 128,000 and left around 3.5 million homeless- including over 200 missing.

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For Shahnaz Kapadia, the morning of October 8, 2005, was nothing short of an apocalypse as she saw her older son fall six storeys to his death from their Margalla Towers flat, while her younger son was pinned under a pillar.

Ten years later, the memory haunts her. The worst part is that till date there has been no official word on why her sons suffered that tragedy.

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The epochal earthquake of 2005 gad wreaked colossal damages in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, decimating dozens of villages, towns and cities, and leaving tens of thousands of people dead. The bigger tragedy was countless children orphaned by the tremor.

In AJK, the government failed to take care of these young, innocent survivors. This is where two philanthropic institutions- the Orphan Centre in Mirpur and SOS Village chief Shamim Baig, while sharing details of the earthquake orphans, whom, she said, she loves more than her own children.

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