Death toll climbs to 37 as aftershocks continue in AJK

At least 459 people injured, rescue operation continues in region

​ Our Correspondent September 25, 2019
PHOTO: AFP

At least 37 people are now confirmed dead in the devastating earthquake that rocked Azad Jammu and Kashmir's (AJK) Mirpur a day earlier as aftershocks continue in the region.

The 5.6-magnitude earthquake - which also shook several cities of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) – injured 459 people of which the condition of 160 is reportedly critical, confirmed Mirpur's district administration.

Mirpur Divisional Commissioner Muhammad Tayyab confirmed that 37 people have died.

People stand on a damaged road in an earthquake-hit area on the outskirts of Mirpur. PHOTO: AFP People stand on a damaged road in an earthquake-hit area on the outskirts of Mirpur. PHOTO: AFP

Earlier, figures showed that the worst-hit was Mirpur with 24 dead, nine in Jatlan and one person lost his life in Jhelum.

During a visit to the affected area, the NDMA chairman said the Pakistan Army has started repair work on damaged roads. “By tomorrow, small vehicles will be able to use the roads that were affected by the earthquake.”

He added that 1,000 food aid packages will reach the affected area soon and tents will also be provided to those whose houses were damaged or destroyed.

PHOTO: Reuters PHOTO: Reuters

Awan, who a day earlier faced ire on social media due to her insensitive remarks regarding the calamity, assured the people that the government will "rebuild all the destroyed houses" and those who lost loved ones will be compensated.

As aftershocks continued to rock the region, many left their homes and spent the night on the roadside or in parks.

PHOTO: AFP PHOTO: AFP

“The situation is slowly returning to normal, the level of panic is now less among the people, although an aftershock was felt at night,” said Sardar Gulfaraz Khan, a police deputy inspector general.

Jatlan road, a major thoroughfare of the area, is now reportedly open for traffic while the main highway and several bridges have been damaged in the quake and are not open for commute.

Widespread power outages have also been reported from the area as local infrastructure, including transformers and electric poles, has been significantly damaged.

Residents were seen inspecting the damage inflicted on their homes, with large cracks defacing walls in the houses that still stood.

At least 30 dead, 452 injured as earthquake jolts AJK, Punjab

"I lost my house. I lost everything," said Abdullah Khan, whose three-bedroom home in Jatlan village on the outskirts of Mirpur was flattened by the quake.

PHOTO: AFP PHOTO: AFP

"I was going to see a friend when the entire area shook with a bang and a huge wall crumbled over me. When I regained my senses I found myself here in this bed," Ali Badshah, a fifth-grade student, told AFP from a hospital in Mirpur where he was being treated for a broken leg.

The people of the area are also experiencing water and food shortages and reports have emerged of looting in the Sang and Sanwal Sharif area.

Pakistan Army troops also arrived earlier to provide relief and continue the survey of the affected region. Rescue 1122 dispatched rescue vehicles and other life-saving equipment to the area.

Mohammad Hameed mourns the death of his sister, who was killed during an earthquake in Jatlan. PHOTO: Reuters Mohammad Hameed mourns the death of his sister, who was killed during an earthquake in Jatlan. PHOTO: Reuters

A devastating earthquake rattled AJK on Tuesday resurrecting the haunting memories of a monster tremor that had wrecked the region 14 years ago.

The epicentre of the quake, which occurred at around 4 pm at a depth of only 10 kilometres, was near Mirpur city in AJK, roughly 20 kilometres north of Jhelum in Punjab, according to the US Geological Survey.

Talking to Anadolu Agency, Information Minister of Azad Kashmir Mushtaq Minhas said the rescue missions using army aviation helicopters have almost reached to all the affected regions.

He expected that the rescue mission would be completed by the next few hours, to pave way for relief operations.

Minhas said so far 500 injured people have been brought to hospitals.

He said rescuers were moving to far-flung villages to fund out injured or trapped people in Mirpur district of Azad Kashmir, bordering Pakistani province of Punjab and Riasi district of Indian Occupied Kashmir.

"Rescue operations are about to be completed. Now, relief operation will begin to provide shelter to residents, whose homes have been damaged by the earthquake," the minister said.

He said food and water has been arranged to be distributed in the remote areas, that are still disconnected from Mirpur city, due to the destruction of roads.

With additional input from AFP

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