Friday, October 8, 2010

Remembering that dreadful morning of 8th October 2005


The morning of 8th October 2005 was no different from the previous mornings for many decades in Pakistan till about 8:50 am when a powerful earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale jolted Pakistan's northern areas of Balakot, Mansehra and many parts of Azad Kashmir (Pakistan administered part of Kashmir) including its capital Muzaffarabad, besides Rawlakot and Bagh. Within next ten minutes, the entire cities perished and turned into piles of rubble. As the daily scores rose, an estimated 100,000 lost their lives, 3-4 millions became homeless, including over 80-90,000 seriously wounded. A majority of the people who died consisted of school and college students.

As the days went by, the damage reports swelled. We lost some 600,000 houses, completely razed to ground, 7,000 schools totally destroyed (burying under them smiling children who had left their mothers with their innocent smiles just an hour ago). The powerful quake destroyed over 200 link bridges that made rescue operations extremely difficult. Hats off to the soldiers of Pakistan Army, who carried food and clothes in their backpacks to climb the treacherous mountains to reach to the people left in the open and who brought back sick and wounded on their backs on their way back. The overall losses were around $ 5.5 billion.

Five years after today, although much damage has been restored, there are still many who have yet to be rehabilitated. Many schools are still to be built and countless people long for the rebuilding of their houses that turned into rubble. While the world wide opened its arms and donated generously as the then government did not have credibility problem. Plane loads came in waves to bring relief goods, while Pakistanis wholeheartedly supported their brethren in distress.

The earthquake left behind thousands of lamenting tales behind – of children that died when the school roofs fell and of teachers who died saving the little children. Just yesterday, there was news that a boy was reunited with his mother since he got separated from her on that fateful day. But many women still lament the loss of their children; brothers grieve for their siblings, while fathers and husbands cry for their children and wives.

We have hardly overcome the shock, when this year flash floods added to the miseries of many more. I do not know how much time it would take for the rehabilitation of people from Swat to seashore of Arabian Sea and the rebuilding of the many more bridges, schools, buildings and roads. I only pray for no more wraths from the Nature and hope we recover from the aftershocks, and live again.

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