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'Not a single house remained unaffected'
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October 11, 2005 15:58 IST

There is hardly a family that has not seen death in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir's capital Muzaffarabad, a city of three lakh that was literally razed to the ground by the killer quake.

Journalists and relief teams, who managed to land in the city on Monday, 48 hours after the quake struck were shocked to see the collapse of the entire Muzaffarabad town, prompting its distraught Prime Minister Sikander Hayat, who himself shifted to a tent in the lawns of his damaged house and described the city as a graveyard.

"The city was completely damaged. Not a single office nor a house remained unaffected," Hayat told Geo TV.

Buildings that collapsed like a pack of cards in the 345-year-old city include the local government secretariat, central jail, military hospital, Ajad Jammu Kashmir University, local banks, hotels, college and scores of schools besides houses.

The Supreme Court and Legislative Assembly buildings under construction were declared unsuitable as they developed large cracks.

Projections of death toll in Muzafarabad have already crossed 50,000 and the surviving members, left without food and water, are eagerly waiting for aid.

The scale of destruction prompted an official of Muzafarabad's planning department to say it was impossible to reconstruct Muzaffarabad in the next 40 years.

"It would economically more prudent and cost effective to set up the capital at new place because replacement of debris would cost a lot owing to congested space and ruined city," the unnamed official was quoted in the media here as saying.

The dead included a local Minister, Shireen Waheed and her husband who were reportedly killed when the famous Neelum Valley Hotel where they were staying collapsed.

All most all the patients of the Combined Military Hospital as well as the Central Jail housing hundreds of inmates collapsed killing most of the inmates.

The quake had made all sections of people helpless- from lawmakers to lawbreakers. There were scenes of a prisoner of the central jail walking listlessly with handcuffs and a local minister frantically searching for his relatives.

There is practically no government in Muzaffarabad at the moment. It is complete chaos everywhere. There is hardly any electricity and telephone lines are working sporadically, local daily The Dawn reported.

With bodies strewn all over, the risk of epidemic has increased. Even the patients are scattered all over the ground, with medical aid scant.


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