ISLAMABAD, May 14 (APP): Tears rolled down her cheeks as she narrated the panic when she rushed out of her house to search ten year old daughter under the debris of a school building.
Ruksuma Bibi, a resident of Balakot was obssessed with pang for her departed daughter Seema, who like thousands others was buried under the debris of what was once a school building in the remote Patlang village, in October 08, 2005 earthquake.
“I could hear her screams for help, my motherhood was shredding to save her. I even tried to turn the heavy stones up but I could not,” Ruksuma said in mourning voice.
“Later, eleven bodies including my daughter’s were recovered from debris of the school,” she continued in a subdued voice.
Seema was one of 18,000 children who died due to collapse of as many as 8,000 schools during devastating earthquake in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on October 08, 2005. While, thousands of children had also suffered injuries with many of them became handicap forerver.
United Nations Children Emergency Fund (Unicef) provided shelter schools and ensured supply of learning material while Aga Khan Planning and Building Services (AKBPS) is engaged in reconstruction of seismic resistent schools, the ADEO added.
Government Boys High School (GBHS) Garhi Habibullah is one of the projects undertaken by AKBPS which would be completed by the end of this year with an estimated cost of Rs 25 million.
The school, consisting 14 classrooms, 18 administration offices and computer laboratories, is unique of its type as its walls have been insulated by filling husk within cement blocks to protect interiors from external weather effects.
Old schools had no deep foundations, so the buildings collapsed down but now we have laid the six feet deep cement foundation with metal structures, Muhammad Riaz, Manager of the Project informed.
AKPBS, by the end of 2008, aims to complete buildings of six earthquake resistant schools in Garhi Habibullah and Chakama Valley of Kashmir, Naeem Rizwani an official of the service said.
“Our organisation has built 250 earthquake resistant schools in Pakistan over the past 20 years,” he added. Rizwani said AKPBS is promoting seismic-resistant buildings and culture of risk-reduction against natural hazards and would hold international conference on school safety.
“The conference aims at sharing learning about issues related to school safety across the globe and to come up with recommendations for action at national and regional level,” Naeem Rizwani said.
Similarly, schools in adjoining Muzzafarabad valley and other parts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir especially those falling in the red zone need to be built under comprehensive prevention plan to avoid or otherwise reduce the scale of damage to human life in case of any catastrophe.