ISLAMABAD: Warning that more aftershocks of varying intensity could strike at any time, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Chairman Maj Gen Asghar Nawaz said the threat of landsliding still loomed over the mountainous areas due to large-scale movement of glaciers and rock formations.
Addressing journalists, along with Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, at the Press Information Department, he said the death toll from the earthquake currently stood at 248. According to a preliminary assessment of damage and losses, he said, as many as 1,665 people had been injured and 4,392 houses were completely or partially damaged.
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He said the number of deaths reported so far from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — the worst hit province — was 202, while another 30 lives were lost in Fata, nine in Gilgit-Baltistan, five in Punjab and two in AJK. Of the injured, 1,488 were in KP, 78 in Punjab, 59 in Fata, 30 in GB and 12 in AJK. He said 3,952 houses were damaged in KP, 300 in Fata, 90 in GB, 44 in Punjab and eight in AJK.
He said old buildings that had developed cracks had been identified and the NDMA had proposed a legislation to declare the violation of seismic codes a criminal offence. He said that Monday’s 8.1 magnitude earthquake had been followed by 18 aftershocks of varying intensity, between 2.2 and 5.1.
Asked whether immediate relief was reaching all affected areas, the NDMA chief conceded that there might have been some gaps in the response in Chitral, but said that a helicopter had been provided exclusively for sorties in the region.
He also denied reports of quake-hit people spending a chilly night under the open sky in Balakot.
He said that about 2,250 tents, 2,500 blankets and other relief items had been sent to the quake-hit areas and the army had established three relief camps and 26 distribution centres and deployed two medical teams, including surgeons.
He said a comprehensive damage assessment exercise had commenced and the NDMA would soon obtain post-disaster imagery of the affected areas from the Pakistan Air Force.
Answering a question, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said that banned outfits would not be allowed to carry out relief operations in the quake-hit areas. “We cannot permit proscribed organisations to spread venom under the guise of relief.”
He said that Operation Zarb-i-Azb had already broken the back of militant organisations.
Pakistan, he said, had the capacity and capability to provide relief to people affected by natural disasters on its own and did not need to launch an appeal for international assistance.
Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2015