Death count climbs to 248 with most casualties in K-P; relief efforts continue
Authorities assessed damages on Tuesday after a 7.5-magnitude catastrophic earthquake devastated northern parts of the country as harsh weather and rugged terrain hampered rescue efforts. Officials confirmed 248 deaths but feared that the toll could go up as many areas remain inaccessible.
The tremor that was centred in the Hindu Kush – the 800km mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan – caused deaths and destruction in the two countries and sent shockwaves as far as New Delhi.
250 dead in Pakistan earthquake, relief efforts underway
While the National Disaster Management Authority on Tuesday confirmed 248 deaths, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, which was the worst-hit province of the country, said 208 people had been killed and 1,518 others injured in 22 districts. PDMA said 8,453 houses had been damaged and 113 schools flattened.
The FATA Disaster Management Authority recorded 610 destroyed and 2,590 partially damaged houses in Bajaur Agency, Kurram Agency, Mohmand Agency, Orakzai, North Waziristan Agency and the adjacent frontier regions of Bannu and Lakki Marwat. Shangla, Chitral and Swat have been identified as the most affected districts in K-P, where the death tolls have risen to 48, 32 and 30, respectively.
Meanwhile, the death toll in Hazara has increased to 44, with hundreds hospitalised and many others yet to reach any healthcare facility because the remote areas have been blocked due to landslides. Torghar district was the worst-hit in Hazara division, where 26 villagers, mostly women and children, were reportedly killed and 200 others injured.
Massive quake hits Pakistan
The widespread destruction prompted an immediate visit from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was briefed by the district administrations and military officials about the relief and rescue operations.
“We stand with the affected people in this tough time,” said the premier while talking to the area elders on the occasion. He lauded the efforts of the Pakistan Army and other relief and rescue teams.
He also announced Rs100,000 for every destroyed house and Rs50,000 for each partially damaged house. As for the deceased and the injured, he said the federal and K-P governments would announce a ‘good compensation package’.
Civil, military efforts mobilised
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan also visited the quake-hit areas in K-P, including the provincial capital Peshawar, where he met the injured at different hospitals. He was accompanied by Chief Minister Pervez Khattak.
Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Hidayatur Rehman visited the affected areas of Bajaur Agency and K-P, where he directed the army troops to do their best in providing relief to the affected people.
The PDMA dispatched a relief package to each district in Malakand division. Latifur Rehman, the spokesman for the authority, said the relief package comprised 1,000 tents, 2,000 blankets, 2,000 mats and 1,000 food packages.
VIP movement: Attendants overcrowd hospitals
Moreover, the Pakistan Army distributed 12,000 food packets along with ration packs for 1,000 families, 1,250 tents and 500 blankets. The Punjab government also handed over 50 trucks of relief goods to K-P, including 10,000 tents, 10,000 blankets, 10,000 food hampers and five trucks of flour. The administration had also sent in a 65-member Rescue 1122 team as well as a 41-member group of doctors, nurses and other technical staff.
K-P government spokesman Mushtaq Ghani said the families of every deceased would receive Rs300,000 while each injured would receive Rs100,000.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2015.