As civil and military leaders toured northern parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Tuesday to assess the destruction caused by the deadly earthquake and to assure the affected people of prompt help, traumatised survivors complained that they were coping with crippling cold in the open without tents and assistance.
A day after the 8.1 magnitude earthquake left at least 238 people dead and 1,618 wounded in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata alone, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan separately visited Shangla, Peshawar and Swat. While the prime minister told PML-N councillors in Shangla — the district which suffered the highest casualty toll — that a relief package was on the anvil, Imran Khan said the KP government would help the affected people and rebuild their damaged homes. Chief Minister Pervez Khattak accompanied the PTI chief. Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Hidayat Rehman also flew to Chitral, Dir, Mingora and Bajaur Agency to oversee relief activities. “The army is trying to reach out to every affected person,” he told reporters in Mingora, the headquarters of Swat district. But the assurances failed to allay concerns of the people devastated by the tremor. The VIP visits added to the misery of the traumatised people as roads in Shangla, Lower Dir and Swat were blocked to facilitate the leaders’ movement.
“The magnitude of the devastation in remote valleys of Upper Dir is colossal. Thousands of people spent the night under the open sky,” Sirajuddin, a TV reporter, said over phone. “We have not seen any official of the district administration. Survivors immediately need tents to protect them from harsh weather,” he said. Rescue teams of the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) or any other organisation have yet to reach Waray valley. He said the terrified residents were not ready to enter their partially damaged houses and women and children spent the night in the open air. The affected people in remote areas of Kohistan, Upper Dir, Chitral, Shangla and Lower Dir are desperately waiting for the start of relief operations by disaster management agencies. The federal and provincial governments have yet to respond to a large number of distress calls from far-flung regions. The KP government has engaged one helicopter to ferry relief goods to such areas. People are without tents and electricity and the injured are being referred to Peshawar for treatment because district hospitals have neither the equipment nor trained manpower. People complained about lack of health facilities in the affected areas.