Tragedy in AJK


A devastating earthquake, measuring 5.8 on the Richter Scale, caused widespread losses in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, killing at least 30 people, injuring hundreds, destroying buildings and severely damaging the infrastructure especially roads. The comparatively well-planned and beautiful city of Mirpur was worst hit besides a small town Jatlan and two villages Manda and Afzalpur, where buildings and homes collapsed, trees were uprooted and cracks appeared on roads large enough to swallow vehicles.
The nation stands in solidarity with the affected people. The tragedy was particularly agonizing as memories are still afresh of the destruction caused by a more powerful earthquake fourteen years back and rehabilitation and reconstruction work initiated then remains unfulfilled in some respects even now. Though this time round, the magnitude of the earthquake was less than 2005 (magnitude 7.6) but the damage has been severe as the quake struck 14 miles north of Jhelum at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometre. Thanks God that the nearby Mangla Dam, one of the two main water reservoirs of the country, was unaffected, otherwise there would have been irreparable loss to the economy besides possible damage to life and property. As there are warnings about after-shocks, the authorities and departments concerned should undertake hectic awareness campaign through Radio Pakistan and TV Channels to educate people about the required precautionary measures. The tragedy has occurred at a time when the country was facing acute financial and economic crunch but it is hoped that necessary resources would be diverted and allocated for provision of adequate relief to the affected people, treatment of the injured, rehabilitation of the affected population and towns and villages and reconstruction of the damaged infrastructure. People of Pakistan have always contributed generously for the cause of relief and rehabilitation in the past and hopefully they would also come up with the same spirit to alleviate sufferings of the people in Azad Kashmir. There is, however, need for long-term planning in close coordination with all institutions and organizations to ensure minimal damage and loss of life in quake and flood prone areas/regions like Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan by building quake proof infrastructure and facilities like water reservoirs and sensitizing residents to do so while constructing their homes and commercial buildings.

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