Pakistan remembers on anniversary of earthquake

 

Pakistan united in mourning today in memory of about 73,000 people killed in an earthquake exactly a year ago, while survivors vented frustration over the pace of reconstruction.

Almost two weeks into Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, Pakistan's mosques have been even more crowded than usual.

Today, worshippers prayed in unison for the dead and survivors alike to mark the first anniversary of the nation's worst disaster.

"This day has revived my sorrows because I have lost many loved ones," said Abdul Rahim in Muzaffarabad, one of the worst affected areas.

"May God give courage to our new generation to rebuild this city," said Rahim (65) as he waited for a commemoration ceremony to begin at a stadium near the Pakistan Kashmiri capital's ruined university.

Sirens sounded across the nation to start a minute's silence. The quake struck at 8.52 a.m. on a Saturday morning, at a time when schools and government offices were full.

With an intensity measured at 7.6 on the Richter scale, the quake lasted less than two minutes, yet destroyed the homes of more than 3 million people in North West Frontier Province and Pakistani Kashmir.

Small prayer meetings were held in Balakot, a town in the Frontier province that suffered the most intensive devastation.

The largest group of mourners were in the grounds of a ruined school where 63 children were buried in a common grave. More than 200 were killed there when the walls and ceilings caved in.

Ireland today announced €1 million in support of on-going recovery effort.

Conor Lenihan Minister of State for Development Co-operation and Human Rights said: "Today's funding is a mark of Ireland's commitment to support the ongoing recovery effort."

The new allocation brings Ireland's contribution to €9 million. The money will be spent providing support to the World Food Programme for school feeding, to encourage school attendance.

Further support will be provided to Unicef to assist in its work to protect vulnerable groups such as female-headed households, children, the disabled and the elderly. The International Federation of the Red Cross, working alongside the Pakistan Red Crescent Society to improve local disaster response capacity.