Earth Quake: AJK Authorities Yet to Assess Deaths or Losses
MUZAFFARABAD: The Azad Jammu and Kashmir State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) has failed to assess damage to life or property by the earthquake despite the lapse of four days.
According to initial reports, at least two people were killed and nine others injured across AJK after the powerful earthquake hit the region.
The SDMA was formed soon after the Oct 8, 2005 earthquake to assess the post-earthquake situation and respond to future disasters.
The SDMA has more than 70 employees but has failed to establish a helpline to collect and share information regarding disaster-hit areas with the public.
“I called up the SDMA several times from Rawalpindi to get information about the Chanari area, but got no response,” said Ejaz Ahmad, who hails from Chanari and was in Rawalpindi when the earthquake hit.
The department has not carried out a single mock exercise or drill for disaster preparedness.
A source in the SDMA said that the AJK government never took interest in capacity building for its staffers. The source claimed that the AJK government has not released operational funds to the SDMA, which has badly affected preparedness.
When contacted, SDMA Secretary Zaheeruddin Quresh claimed that they were in the operational room that was why the main secretariat was closed when the earthquake struck.
He failed to give a satisfactory reply, when asked if his department shared any information with the people when the earthquake struck, or the SDMA teams were mobilised soon after the tremor jolted the region, only saying “they were busy in the operational room”.
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