A major earthquake shook Pakistan on Saturday, October 8, 2005, at 8:50 a.m. The epicenter of this magnitude 7.6 quake was about 65 miles north-northeast of Islamabad, the country’s capital. Thousands lost their lives, many were injured, and extensive damage resulted in northern areas of Pakistan. True assessment of damage cannot be made because several towns were completely raised to the ground and there was heavy damage in remote areas. Basic infrastructure in Balakot, Muzaffarabad, Abbottabad and several other cities which were once major tourist attractions, was completely or partially devastated.
The heaviest damage occurred in the Muzaffarabad area of Azad Kashmir. Many students had no sooner arrived at their schools than they were buried alive under collapsing buildings. Virtually all school buildings are government-built and owned, and every community has an elementary school in its vicinity, even the remote villages. Evidence suggested catastrophic damage to a much higher proportion of public schools than nongovernmental buildings in the same areas. Poor quality of construction and lack of seismic design was the main cause of these building collapses. Although most school buildings collapsed totally or partially, many schools were open and functioning with the classes being held in the adjacent school yards. Even today a large number of schools and buildings haven’t been constructed or completed due to lack of funds and students are forced to study in open classrooms under extreme temperatures of summer and winter.
Islamabad also saw damage and a major apartment building, Margalla Tower collapsed. Damage was seen in many other old buildings and houses as well which have either been rebuilt or repaired.
Many hospitals in the northern region also suffered severe damage or collapsed. Of the two main hospitals in Muzaffarabad, the main Combined Military Hospital (CMH) totally collapsed killing or injuring many patients and workers. Residents of the city had to rely on emergency medical aid from the military and NGOs like the Red Crescent/Red Cross as they mobilized for the rescue effort 24 hours after the earthquake. A major hospital in Abbotabad, the Ayub Medical College, was a critical care facility, was lost due to lack of a proper post-earthquake assessment process. The hospital was evacuated and patients relocated to the front yard of the facility due to mistaken categorization of nonstructural damage as major structural damage. This resulted in significant disruption of hospital operations. A similar problem occurred with the Abbas Medical Institute in Muzaffarabad.
The government of Pakistan also took all possible measures to conduct rescue, relief and rehabilitation work in the quake affected areas. Today is 8th October 2013 and its 8 years gone since the severe quake so it’s time to remember bad time that occurred on those who were the residents of Muzaffrabad, Balakot and Kashmir. It is our duty as a Pakistani to recite Fatiha and dua-e-maghfirat for them who lost their lives in that major earthquake.