On the 8th October , 2005 most of the parts of Pakistan were jolted by a strong Earthquake, measuring 7.5 in the Richter scale which is believed to be the most powerful to hit this region in the past 100 years.
The first tremor was felt at 0852 hours which continued for two minutes with second and third tremors till 0930 hours; when people were preparing to leave for their offices, some had just the offices and some were on their way to their work places. A few minutes later there was another tremor and then another. The biggest of which was at around 1545 hours. These aftershocks created panic among the people who had not recovered from the early jolts of the morning.
Many buildings including schools, offices, hospitals, shops, and living and residences in different areas have become heap of debris. A ten stories building in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan collapsed as a 1 ? stories high debris burying most of the residents in the debris. The rescue teams including the Pakistan army was doing its best to rescue the inhabitants of the building from the debris but due to non availability of required heavy machinery the progress was slow. The people were asked to send in the required machinery and also requested send expertise in order to coordinate with the agencies and speed up the pace of rescue.
In an interview with the President of Pakistan at the site of the disaster the president told that the machinery and the engineers had arrived at the spot and the rescue work will gain momentum.
The local hospitals in Islamabad and a few organizations had opened relief camps at the site of the disaster to provide immediate relief to the victims. The government has welcomed international relief both in the shape of finances and relief items.
Many of the buildings have developed cracks and the government agencies have asked the people to vacate such buildings.
Telecommunication and electricity system has been badly damaged that has affected the relief work. The overnight rain increased misery to the victims as well as the rescue workers. The temperature fell down due to the rain and people in the open who had been evacuated were shivering in the cold.
The local people of the affected areas helped each other and there seemed to be complete coordination among those who had gathered on voluntary basis to rescue those who were stuck in the debris, but being non-technical had to face many problems and also created hindrance for the rescue agencies like climbing the debris not knowing that the extra weight might further collapse the building.
Later they make a human chain and removed the blocks from the debris to lessen the weight of the debris and also to find an opening to reach the people stuck inside.
Nature of Disaster:
An earthquake of the intensity of 7.5 on the Richter scale hit several parts of Pakistan in the morning on October 8, 2005 while the after shocks were also felt later in the day. According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department around 140 aftershocks have been recorded but of very low intensity. The strongest aftershock was at around 1545 hours.
Azad Kashmir is said to be the worst hit while other areas affected by the killer jolts are Islamabad the capital of Pakistan, Mansara, Balakot Buttagram, Abbottabad, and some remote areas in the North West Frontier Province, Lahore, Sialkot, Lalamusa, Gujranwala, Mandi Bahauddin, Daska, Pakpattan, Chakwal, Kasur, D.G. Khan Bahawalpur, Mailsi, Malikwal, and other remote areas of Punjab and some parts of Baluchistan province including Quetta.
Number of people dead:
According to the unofficial reports in the media 30,000 people have lost their lives and around 41,000 are injured. According to the details available the figure for the causalities and the injured of different places is as under:-
- In Azad Kashmir alone around 17,000 people are feared dead till early morning reports and still chances that the number could increase. In Mansara, Buttagram and Abbottabad 1000 people have been feared dead while the same number are missing.
- In Gari Habibullah, a remote area on NWFP 250 bodies of girls were recovered from the debris of a school building while about 50 girls are reported buried in the debris.
- In Buttal also a remote area of the frontier province three schools collapsed where 30 bodies were recovered from one school25 from the other and 150 from the third.
- In Battagram ,200 people are confirmed dead.
- In Lahore 2 deaths were reported while 15 were reported injured.
- In other areas of Punjab province three deaths have been reported andmany injured.In the other parts of Punjab province 3 are reported dead while many others injured.
Number of People Hospitalized:
The hospitals in the affected areas have reported that their wards have been filled and extra beds have been arranged but still people are being treated in the open places. As reported earlier unofficial figure reports 41,000 injured where as the figure could be much higher and increasing by the passage of time as the relief work is still going on.
Involvement of Caritas Pakistan:
Caritas Pakistan immediately responded to the emergency as soon as the news of the disaster was telecast the National Executive and the Emergency desk and other concerned Desks at the National Secretariat got into action despite weekend All the concerned diocese were contacted and immediate future plans were discussed. The diocesan units were instructed to immediately send their staff to the affected areas and to gather the information including the roads situation as it was reported in the media that some of the affected areas are not assessable due to the landslides.
Immediate future Plans:
Caritas Pakistan has planned to put up Relief Medical Camps immediately in the targeted areas which will be decided on receiving the reports from the diocesan units.
In the second phase Caritas will work on the rehabilitation of the people rendered homeless.
- Caritas Pakistan will put up camps where services will be available 24 hours.
- All the Caritas Staff having Sphere Training will be called and their services placed at different camps.
- All the doctors of the diocesan units will be asked to put their services at the camps arranged.
- Local people as paramedical staff will be hired to ease the language problem.
- The medicines/ bandages/equipment /other material for the use in camps will be purchased from the local market or if any partner /agency like UNICEF provides we would welcome such support.
- The camp will be set up for a minimum of 3-4 days depending on the situation of the emergency.
Caritas Pakistan has received a number of calls from international agencies offering their support, and asking the need of Caritas Pakistan for the relief work. Caritas welcomes such offers but the need can only be informed after the reports from the diocesan units are received. Final decision on the tentative plan will be taken by tomorrow evening.
On receiving information from diocesan units and decision on the plan of action.