[Anglican Communion News Service] The Church of Pakistan’s Diocese of Peshawar is responding to a major earthquake that caused significant damage in the Badakshan Province in Afghanistan and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan last week.
Latest figures put the death toll at 382, with 2,700 injured. Many thousands more are without home or shelter, with most of those affected in Pakistan. Authorities fear that those figures may increase because many of those affected are in remote difficult-to-reach areas.
Tragically, the U.N. reports that among those killed by the quake were 12 school girls who were crushed in a stampede as they fled their collapsing school.
“We are extremely concerned for the safety and wellbeing of children, who are already the most at risk in any disaster,” Unicef’s regional director Karin Hulshof said. She warned that children “are now in danger of succumbing to the elements as temperatures plummet.”
Geologists say that the epicenter of the magnitude-7.5 earthquake was 51 miles southeast of Feyzabad in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush mountain range, and 212 miles deep.
“It jolted the whole country from one end to other,” a report in a special edition of the Diocese of Peshawar’s Frontier News says. “However, we are thankful to God for His mercy that this earthquake … caused minimum damage compared to the earthquake [in] 2005.”
The magnitude-7.6 earthquake of October 2005 resulted in more than 100,000 fatalities.
Most of the houses which were destroyed or damaged in last week’s earthquake were mainly mud houses belonging to poor people living in the remote mountainous areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The quake also affected people living in major cities such as Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi , Quetta, Malakand, Kohat and Peshawar, where a number of older buildings were damaged.
“It is pertinent to mention that by the Grace of God the Christian community survived through this earthquake unhurt,” the Diocese of Peshawar says, “but there are reports about damaged or partially damaged property and houses, including a few churches, schools and hospitals.”
The Diocese of Peshawar has sent teams to assess the damage and to help and rehabilitate those affected by the earthquake and are committed to proving assistance “without discrimination of religion, caste or creed.”
They say that “the spadework is in progress and hopefully soon a fully-fledged program to reach the unreached will be materialized by the diocese.”
The diocese of Peshawar asks for people to “pray for the Earthquake affectees and the diocesan efforts for their rehabilitation.”