Report of PM’s inquiry panel yet to be made public, a decade after the temblor struck
ISLAMABAD: 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.
“Before my very eyes, one son fell, while the other was pinned under a pillar, which stopped him from falling six storeys down, but was also crushing his left arm, ribs and leg.” Kapadia recalls as the sequence of events from that fateful day play over in her mind. “I have no words to describe those horrible moments of my life.”
Read: Family members, friends gather at Margalla Towers to remember earthquake victims
She often wonders if things had happened differently. What if it had not been a Saturday? What if she, along with her two boys, had never moved into Margalla Towers? What if they had not gone to the emergency exit to follow everyone out of the building through the stairs? What if she had remained in Canada and not returned to Pakistan?
In 2003, Kapadia and her sons, 17-year-old Salman and then 10-year-old Daniyal, returned to Pakistan from Canada. They rented an apartment in what was then considered the ‘safe and prestigious’ Margalla Towers. However, two years later when the devastating earthquake struck, Salman fell as a section of the Towers collapsed in mere seconds. As many as 78 people living in the Towers died and over 100 were injured.
No official explanation for collapse
Margalla Towers was the only structure in Islamabad which collapsed during the 2005 earthquake, leaving many to mourn the loss of their loved ones, and the authorities to ponder on why only this building was affected.
Read: Ten years of searching for Pakistan’s earthquake missing
A source in the Capital Development Authority (CDA) told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity that the then prime minister had formed an inspection commission to probe into the reasons for the Margalla Towers collapse.
However a decade later, Kapadia and hundreds others are still waiting for the findings of that inquiry to be made public. A court in the capital had dismissed the incident as a natural disaster, absolving the contractor who built the tower of any responsibility. Affected apartment owners were provided a total compensation of Rs1.75 billion on Supreme Court’s orders.
Read: Margalla Towers architect arrested in Greece
Later in 2012, the CDA sold the land and the crumbling structure of the towers through an auction to private development firm and the 10-storey reminder of Margalla Towers was pulled down in 2013.
The firm is currently in the process of constructing an 18-storey mall and apartment complex on the site, expected to be completed by 2018. “We are ensuring that there are no loopholes in the new construction that prove detrimental for anyone,” said the firm’s chief executive, says referring to flaws in the construction of the ill-fated towers.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2015.