Earthquake: A first-hand report from Pakistan

October 27, 2015
Written by Mubashir Ahmed, Country Director, Pakistan
Photo by Aref Salangi

On Monday October 26th, a 7.5-magnitude quake struck Afghanistan. The tremor was so large and deep that it was felt throughout the wider region, including Pakistan. Concern Worldwide’s Pakistan country director recounts what it was like when the earthquake hit.

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Early Monday afternoon, I was in our second floor office in Islamabad when our building began to sway like a pendulum. Looking out the window, I saw the neighboring structures come closer and then move away, and I feared our building itself might collapse.

Our local partner teams were already in the area… and immediately mobilized to assess the damages caused by the earthquake.

The epicenter in the Hindu Kush range means those affected in Pakistan are living in remote areas, prone to extreme cold, heavy snowfall and serious access issues. The terrain is very difficult with nominal road links. Thankfully, our local partner teams were already in the area, carrying out OFDA-funded RAPID programming, and immediately mobilized to assess the damages caused by the earthquake.

Communication networks were broken, and then congested, so we in Islamabad only began to get details from remote edges of the country late Monday and into today. Late in the evening, we found that our Concern team had been touched personally by the quake — our monitoring, evaluation and reporting officer lost a 23-year-old cousin who was killed in northern Pakistan due to the collapse of a wall. Our hearts go out to him.

Our reports show at least 200 people are dead and more than 1,000 injured.

We are aware of the ticking clock. Before Monday’s earthquake, it was snowing in the north near the border with Afghanistan. Today it is overcast and rainy and so the disaster is aggravated by the cold.

Our focus now is to understand the extent of the destruction, and our local partners and own teams are working hard on that. Our reports show at least 200 people are dead and more than 1,000 injured. We know that damage to infrastructures is substantial.

Concern is on the ground, with emergency stocks at hand, already reaching out to survivors.

So far, 13 aftershocks have been reported with more expected. Schools are closed today in/around the earthquake affected regions of the country due to the fear of the aftershocks.

Monday’s earthquake was not my first  — I was outside on the street during the 2005 quake. But the shakes in this latest quake felt more horrible and extreme. Concern is on the ground, with emergency stocks at hand, already reaching out to survivors to assess and ready to meet emergency shelter needs as well as water and sanitation requirements.


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