MIRPUR (AJK)/Islamabad - Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa yesterday reviewed the relief and rescue operations in quake-hit parts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) as families mourned relatives and rescue teams sent supplies to the area.

At least 37 people have died and hundreds others injured in the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that occurred on Tuesday.

The quake had shaken almost whole of AJK and parts of KP and Punjab. Luckily, the damage from the calamity was not as widespread as initially feared.

The earthquake however levelled homes and shops and split open roads in an area between the towns of Jhelum and Mirpur to the north. Most of the deaths and injuries also came in the Mirpur district of AJK.

Director General ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor in a tweet said that the Chief of the Army Staff (CAOS) General Bajwa visited the earthquake affected areas of AJK and reviewed the ongoing damage repair efforts at Jatlan Canal Road.

“Normalcy be restored with speed rendering full assistance to civil administration and taking best possible care of the affected population,” he quoted the COAS as having directed to the concerned army officers.

AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan also visited the quake hit areas of Mirpur district on Wednesday and assessed rescue and relief operation. He lauded the role of armed forces in supporting the civilian authorities help the affected people.

Officials said the extent of the casualties, who included young children, emerged a day after the earthquake struck when the authorities were able to reach towns and villages around the region outside main population centres.

Authorities here have confirmed a total of 33 causalities and injuries to 579 persons, 490 of them children, in 42 of villages in the district.

Mirpur Deputy Commissioner Raja Qaiser Aurganzeb told The Nation Wednesday night that a total of 6,500 houses have been affected, 419 of those destroyed completely. The quake also killed 580 cattle heads and damaged 200 vehicles.

“The situation is slowly returning to normal, the level of panic is now less among the people, although an aftershock was felt at night,” said Sardar Gulfaraz Khan, a police deputy inspector general. Most of the damage happened in villages where old houses collapsed, Khan said.

In a town in Mirpur district, more than 200 people gathered to attend the funeral of a 1-1/2-year-old child who was killed in the earthquake. Women wailed around the bed where the boy’s body lay covered in a blanket.

Another child in the town was buried the same morning after a wall collapsed on her.

“All of sudden I received a call from my father that there was an earthquake and my little sister is badly injured,” her brother Mohammad Hameed said. “She was injured and (now) she has left us.”

 

 

AJK PM

The AJK prime minister visited Jaatlan, Morra Keikri, Saang, Pull Munda, Khair Sharif and other affected areas and witnessed the damage and reviewed the relief activities.

Raja Farooq Haider also visited the District Headquarter Hospital Mirpur and inquired after the injured and directed the hospital administration to provide best available medical facilities to them.

“The Health Department should make it sure that hospitals in quake hit areas have sufficient stock of life saving drugs,” he further directed.

Earlier, he received a detailed briefing from Mirpur Deputy Commissioner Qaisar Aurengzabe. He directed the authorities concerned to utilise all available resources to accelerate the relief and rehabilitation operations in the affected areas. “No negligence would be tolerated in this regard,” the PM warned.

Addressing the cabinet members, divisional and district officers, the prime minister said that the natural calamity has caused severe losses to lives and properties in Mirpur division.

“It is a moment of grief and trial but we are not alone as the whole Pakistani nation, the central government and Pak Army are standing with us in this time of crisis,” Farooq Haider said.

He said that revenue department has been directed to compile the list of damages, deceased and injured at the earliest while the work on the rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure is in process. All the affected families would get reasonable compensation, he added.

The prime minister expressed profound gratitude to all those who called him, messaged him and offered assistance for the relief and rehabilitation work.

He particularly thanked COAS General Bajwa for always extending invaluable support and providing assistance to the civilian administration in natural disasters.

The prime minister also lauded the courage and resilience of Kashmiri people to face the crisis situations. He appreciated the civil society of Mirpur for coming out and generously supporting the quake victims.

NDMA chairman

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Lt-Gen Muhammad Afzal on Wednesday said that coordinated efforts were afoot for relief to the earthquake-affected people.

“We have teamed up with the AJK government and the local administration to help them out in relief activities as, when and where required,” he informed media during his visit to quake-affected areas.

He said that Jatlan area was more affected from earthquake where 14 kilometre road sections and 450 houses have been damaged while 25 people lost their lives and 80 were injured.

“Pakistan Government, Army and NDMA are all out for relief activities. However, we are not doing it in isolation, but with the AJK government and district administration as per requirements mentioned by them,” he stated.

Afzal said the reconstruction work on damaged portion of the Jatlan Road has been started.

Currently, he said, around 20 ‘machine contingents’ of Pakistan Army and 16 of other departments were busy in rehabilitation activities in the affected areas.

NDMA chairman said that he was contacted by couple of foreign envoys and several Pakistani philanthropists for help in relief operations but presently they are meeting the requirements from their own resources.

“.... if we needed anything extra, a helpline would be created where the donors can register for provision of relief goods,” he added.

He said 200 family tents along with kitchen and other accessories like blankets had so far been provided to the displaced people while provision of food packages were also being ensured there.

“As many as 50,000 drinking water bottles and 1,000 family food-package including flour, sugar, rice and cooking oil/ghee are also being transported there at the earliest,” he said.