“I felt the earth heave beneath my feet, it was the most powerful earthquake I have ever felt,” says Hajra Bibi, an aged woman from Charbagh, dazed and shaken from the experience.
Hajra Bibi was injured in the earthquake, and was admitted in a hospital along with her two children, who were also injured.
Terror stricken residents panicked as the earth shook, and ran out of their homes screaming in fear when the earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 struck the scenic Swat valley.
The earthquake has claimed the lives of over 150 and injured hundreds more, with casualties expected to rise as remote areas are reached by rescue and relief teams.
The government has declared an emergency in all government and private hospitals of the region. According to reports, 80 per cent of houses in Shangla have been destroyed.
Residents of Pakistan’s northern areas still have horrifying memories from the massive earthquake that devastated the region in 2005.
“We thought that the earth would split open again, like it did 10 years ago,” says Zainab Bibi, a resident of Amankot.
Zainab adds that the air too was filled with an ear shattering sound.
Bakht Rawan, a resident of Parrarai, rushed an injured neighbour to the hospital, saying that all the villagers ran to the riverbank while many houses in his village were destroyed.
Saidu Sharif Teaching Hospital (STH), which is the largest in Malakand division, was short of beds to treat the injured, who were lying on the ground awaiting treatment.
Hundreds of people have reached the hospital to donate blood and help in any way they can, while lawmakers and officials from provincial administration are trying to ensure that all help is provided to the affectees.
“I came to the hospital to assist, and sent all the Assistant Commissioners to sub-divisional hospitals to do the same,” says Deputy Commissioner of Saidu Sharif, Mehmood Aslam Wazir.
Army troops have also reached Malakand division, and have initiated rescue and relief efforts.