• THE EARTHQUAKE IN PAKISTAN •
“The willow knows what the storm does not. The power to endure harm is greater than the power to inflict it.”
At exactly 08:50:38 Pakistan local time on the 8th of October, 2005, violent earthquake tremors were felt in the city of Muzaffarabad. The local residents going about merrily upon their daily routines had no idea that the coming few minutes would etch an unforgettable picture of horror upon their minds. The earth would swallow many innocent lives along with priceless property.
The damage caused was tremendous; the worst hit areas were Pakistan-administered Kashmir , Pakistan 's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), and western and southern parts of the Kashmir valley in the Indian-administered Kashmir. More than 60% of the buildings in Peshawar were of unreinforced solid concrete blocks and being in the maximum damage zone led to maximum deaths, almost all of them coming from collapsed walls and foundations. Saturday, being a normal school day in the region, led to the loss of many young lives due to being buried alive under the school foundations. Aftershocks, rather than the earthquake itself, were largely responsible for the damage caused in Kashmir . After the incident, the official death toll by the Pakistan government topped the 84,000s and in India there were around 1,400 deaths confirmed and an estimated 3.3 million people was left homeless.
However, after the disaster, authorities have been quick to react. The UN has been instrumental in providing help and relief to both sides of the border. Large rations of rice and other non-perishable foodstuff were delivered of all parts of quake-hit areas. Distributing relief supplies to the victims is especially urgent as the victims face the risk of exposure to cold weather due to the region's high altitude and the approaching winter. Construction work has already begun with some substantial funds from the Arabian king in order to provide shelter to families living in the open in fear of more earthquakes. Relief efforts in many remote villages are hampered due to the aftershocks, as roads are buried in rubble and many affected areas remain inaccessible. Heavy equipment was needed to clear the roads and to rescue survivors buried under the earthquake wreckage.
Rehabilitation work is going on full throttle. After the aftershocks lessened the rubble piles, rehabilitation work is picking up speed as even the local residents have joined in and are digging up rubble even with their bare hands, looking for more survivors who might be helplessly buried within the rubble. They now have pickaxes provided by the rescue teams to speed up their progress. Rescue effort are also affected by the numerous aftershocks that continue to rattle the region and put rescue workers in danger as they search through the wreckage for survivors. 5 passage points have been opened on the LoC to provide easy access to the quake-hit areas.
“Prevention is better than cure”
This saying would hold true for the Pakistan earthquake as well. The quality of the buildings' make was such that it took seconds for the earthquake to break them down. Lack of resources has been a major setback to Pakistan 's economy as there are very few earthquake-proof buildings in the quake-hit areas. Buildings should have quick and orderly evacuation systems. Swift evacuation can be achieved through fire-drills. People should be educated about these matters in detail, so that they know what is happening and are able to take due precaution and save theirs and others lives.
Rene Dubos once rightly said “Human destiny is bound to remain a gamble, because at some unpredictable time and in some unforeseeable manner nature will strike back.”
The earthquake which we have just witnessed in Pakistan is only a small pang by the fury of nature which has come out in the form of a violent deed. We must take this hint as an omen and begin working towards saving the nature because within preserving the planet and living our life to the fullest lies our true priority and pride.