By Qayyum Afridi
PESHAWAR, 1 November: The massive earthquake which struck Pakistan on 26 October killed at least 271 people and injured over 2,500 others. More than 25,000 houses were also damaged in the earthquake which mostly damaged Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA.
The federal and provincial governments immediately launched rescue and relief operations in the quake-affected areas which are still continuing. However, people in some of the affected areas still complain that relief teams have not reached their areas. TNN has conducted a detailed discussion about quake damages and the rescue efforts of the government with Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) spokesman Lateefur Rehman.
TNN: What are the estimates of damages in the earthquake?
Lateefur Rehman: Malakand division suffered the most in the 26 October earthquake. Damages were reported in the districts of Chitral, Lower Dir, Upper Dir and Shangla and Torthr district of Hazara division was also affected. So far 230 deaths have been reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. About 1,800 people also sustained injuries in the quake, while more than 25,000 houses were also damaged.
TNN: What was your immediate response towards the earthquake?
Lateefur Rehman: The PDMA immediately directed all the deputy commissioners of the earthquake affected districts to arrange food and tents for the affected people from the available funds in the PDMA accounts. The PDMA provided more than 15,000 tents to the affected people of Malakand division through helicopters. Twenty-two thousand blankets and as many food packages were also immediately dispatched to the area. This package was provided from the funds of the federal and provincial governments.
TNN: People in some of the affected areas have complained that relief teams have not reached there. What is your planning to reach out to affected people in far flung areas?
Lateefur Rehman: I will appeal the people to contact the PDMA Control Room at phone no: 0919213959; 9213845 if they have information about any area where the relief teams have not reached so far. The Federal Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has provided us MI-17 helicopters and the chief minister has also made available another helicopter to us to reach to any such area after getting information. Roads in some areas have been damaged due to which our officials are providing food and other necessary items to the affected people through helicopters. The local administrations of these areas have also been directed to make arrangements for providing relief to the affected people on local basis.
Emergency remains imposed in the earthquake-affected districts and the concerned officials have been directed to ensure access to affected areas. The PDMA has also sent seven teams to the areas damaged by the quake to monitor the relief activities. We will make sure that no affected person remains deprived of the government aid.
TNN: What is the status of ongoing rescue operations in the affected areas?
Lateefur Rehman: The first phase of rescue operation in the affected districts has been concluded. The people who sustained injuries are under treatment in major hospitals. Now the second phase, which relates to provision of relief items like food and tents etc. to the people, is in full swing. The PDMA has also provided blankets and quilts in the areas where the weather is cold. The departments of Livestock, Construction and Work and Education are working hand in hand with the PDMA for relief efforts. Every department is fulfilling its responsibility with dedication after the quake emergency.
TNN: What is the procedure for the earthquake-affected people to get relief package announced by the government?
Lateefur Rehman: Under the policy jointly devised by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Perviaz Khattak, the ongoing relief operation for the quake-affected people will conclude on Thursday. Under the joint package of the federal and provincial governments, the heirs of those who lost life in the quake will get Rs600,000 each, injured will get Rs100,000, disabled will be given Rs200,000, owners of completely damaged houses will get Rs200,000 and owners of partially damaged houses will get Rs100,000 each. The PDMA has also asked the deputy commissioners of all the affected districts to submit reports about the damage estimates. The KP government has released about Rs3 billion for rehabilitation of these affected areas which will be distributed by Thursday. After completion of this phase, the government will initiate work on reconstruction of damaged government buildings and bridges etc.
— Translation by Aamir Khan