ISLAMABAD: On the 12th anniversary of the 2005 earthquake on Sunday, people visited the site of the Margalla Towers, as well as the memorial for those killed in the earthquake in Islamabad, to remember the victims.

Margalla Towers was one of the capital’s first high-rise residential apartments. One of its buildings collapsed during the 2005 earthquake, killing over 70 people. The earthquake hit northwest Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, killing over 70,000 people and injuring over 100,000.

Iftikhar Chaudhry, one of the survivors, told Dawn that 143 families living in the tower were given Rs2.7 billion in compensation but the responsibility for the incident had not been fixed.

“Just after the incident, the then prime minister Shaukat Aziz constituted an inquiry committee headed by retired Lt Gen Farooq Ahmed Khan to find the reason why [the tower] collapsed,” he said.

Mr Chaudhry added: “The inquiry committee made a 1,600-page report but the report could not be made public due to which responsibility for the incident could not be fixed. The person who made Margalla Towers was also compensated as he owned flats.”

“Unfortunately, there is a long history in Pakistan of reports of incidents that are not made public due to which [similar] incidents could not be prevented in the future. The city faced the Ojhri Camp disaster but its report was never made public. We have recently faced the Awami Markaz incident but I doubt its report will be made public.”

He said: “Survivors of the incident demand that the report be made public, and the people who were declared responsible in the report should be punished.”

Responsibility for collapse of tower in 2005 earthquake could not be fixed because report is yet to be made public, says survivor

Mr Chaudhry also alleged that a mafia that had already purchased land in what was to become the capital was the reason the capital was shifted to this area even though experts had suggested that the city should not be developed here because the area was located on a fault line.

Discussing Margalla Towers, he said the building was supposed to be five storeys tall but two storeys were later added. He also alleged that the material used in the buildings’ construction was substandard.

“The Supreme Court has given directions that buildings should be constructed that can sustain a nine magnitude earthquake. The civic body should also release data on buildings in the federal capital from time to time so that people remain aware of the quality of the buildings they live in.”

Mr Chaudhry said it was unfortunate that even 12 years after the earthquake there was no facility to rescue people in case of a fire. He said the recent Awami Markaz fire was an example of this.

Oct 8 is also observed as the National Disaster Awareness Day, and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) held an event in this regard at F-9 Park which was attended by NDMA Chairman Lt Gen Omer Mahmood Hayat and Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz.

The fire brigade and other civic departments also held a flag march.

At Pakistan Sweet Homes, children held a vigil for victims of the earthquake and patron-in-chief Zamarud Khan said a number of survivors of the earthquake had been shifted to the Sweet Homes.

“We can never forget that incident, as that sort of incident has never taken place before in the history of the country,” he said.

Attock observes National Disaster Awareness Day The Punjab emergency services – Rescue 1122 – commemorated the National Disaster Awareness Day in Attock in remembrance of the victims of the 2005 earthquake.

Speaking at an event, 1122 District Emergency Officer Dr Mohammad Ashfaq said the day was observed to highlight the importance of disaster awareness and preparedness, support and rehabilitation in case of a calamity.

He said Rescue 1122 had established an integrated emergency services infrastructure essential for saving lives, and provided people with the right to a timely disaster response and care without discrimination. He added that Rescue 1122 was now working to change minds and establish socially responsible, healthy, safe and more resilient communities.

He said incidents such as the earthquake should be taken as an opportunity for the capacity building of institutions to cope with emergencies, and urged various sectors of society to raise awareness about natural calamities and preparedness to minimise their hazards.

A rally was also held from Liaquat Ali Khan Shaheed Stadium to Fawara Chowk.

Published in Dawn, October 9th, 2017

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