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18 years on: 2015 quake survivors struggle to rebuild lives | The Express Tribune


The 2005 survivors, haunted by the memories of a devastating earthquake that struck 18 years ago, are still trapped in a cycle of misery, hoping for a new lease on life that seems elusive.

Due to a grim lack of funding and mismanagement of institutions, the rehabilitation work in the affected areas remains incomplete, leaving the survivors trapped in a cycle of misery and hoping for a new lease on life that seems elusive.

Moreover, the city of Balakot, situated in the heart of the fault line, still remains unsettled in Bakrial.

The aftermath of the earthquake left its mark on the region, with over 200,000 children forced to endure educational hardships as the non-availability of institutions left them studying under the open sky.

Read More: Earthquake 2005: Survivors who cannot go home

Over 1,730 reconstruction and rehabilitation projects are still incomplete in the areas affected by the earthquake, out of which 1,112 are educational institutions.

The earthquake, measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale, rattled not only Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but also Islamabad and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Its destructive force claimed over 100,000 lives, including men, women, and children.

The disaster affected more than 500,000 families, rendering some 3.5 million people homeless.

Read More: 14 years on, AJK quake survivors wait on empty promises

The seismic event left a devastating toll on infrastructure, with over 780,000 buildings damaged, including 17,000 schools and numerous hospitals.

Adding to the plight of the survivors, funds from the federal government have not been forthcoming since April 2021, resulting in the cessation of work on 919 ongoing projects. Moreover, work could not even commence on 811 projects, including 597 school construction initiatives.

There is a glimmer of hope, however, as 81 school construction projects and 5 public health initiatives could be completed by June 2024 if a sum of Rs1 billion is provided. This injection of funds could bring some relief to the survivors and accelerate the much-needed rehabilitation efforts.

Meanwhile, in Azad Jammu Kashmir all is set to commemorate the 18th anniversary of history’s worst deadly earthquake on Sunday (today) with due feelings of seriousness, respect and determination as the National Disaster Awareness Day with the tributes to be paid to the martyrs and other victims of the history’s first-ever most-worst deadly catastrophe in the region.

A grand ceremony will be hosted by the Kashmir Orphan Relief Trust (KORT) and Educational Complex Mirpur AJK.

KORT, which houses hundreds of children who had fallen orphaned and homeless in the deadly earthquake will be the hallmark of the anniversary.

The ceremony will begin at 6.00 a.m. in Swabi.

The earthquake also exacted a heavy toll on livestock, with approximately 250,000 farm animals perishing. Aftershocks continued for an extended period following the initial quake, compounding the already dire situation.

An area spanning 30 square kilometres experienced the full impact of the disaster, resulting in the loss of thousands of lives, injuries, and irreparable damage to property and infrastructure.

The numbers tell a grim tale – 600,000 houses destroyed, 6,298 schools reduced to rubble, and 796 health centres wiped out. Roads and infrastructure lay in ruins, cutting off communities from vital services. Water supply, sanitation, telecommunication, and power infrastructure were crippled, further compounding the suffering of survivors and rendering 50-70% of these systems non-operational.

Over 6,440 kilometres of roads were left in ruins.

Similarly, 42,600 families found themselves bereft of their livelihoods and forced to rely on societal assistance.

Schools bore the brunt of nature’s fury, with teachers and children experiencing the greatest losses.

According to the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), K-P and Azad Kashmir alone lost 18,588 children and 873 teachers.

(With input from APP)

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