On October 26, 2015, at 1409 hrs, an earthquake of magnitude 7.7 occurred in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. The epicenter was 76 Km south of Feyzabad Afghanistan, north of the Chitral border of Pakistan. The earthquake has been calculated to have occurred due to reverse faulting at approximately 190 Km below the earth’s surface where the Indian tectonic plate moves northward and collides with Eurasian plate at a velocity of about 37 mm/yr. This convergence collision has produced the highest mountain peaks in the world including the Himalayan, the Karakoram, the Pamir and the Hindu Kush ranges.

More than two minutes of sustained tremors were felt in Islamabad and tremors were felt as far down as Lahore and southern Punjab. Due to the depth of the earthquake the damage sustained is controlled and emergency response by the National Disaster Management Emergency Response teams and health facilities has been sufficient. However with each passing hour, as information trickles in from the remote areas of the northern border of Pakistan, the mortality and morbidity figures continue to rise. So far with 260 dead, thousands have been injured in areas of Dir, Bajaur, Swat and Chitral.

The earthquake may not have directly caused immediate damage, but the event has triggered off a series of landslides in the mountainous regions that, in the face of the impending winter where it has been raining and snowing in some regions, is leading to situations where power outages have occurred in many places and road blocks, isolating large tracts of areas where people may be in need. Hence currently access is being possible by the Pakistan Army helicopters that are already providing relief commodities of food, blankets and medical supplies. The panicked response to the quake by the average person has its roots in the devastating 2005 earthquake memories where the thousands died, hundreds of thousands injured and rendered homeless. The PTSD effect has lingered on and surfaced with this incident.

RMF Pakistan office is closely monitoring the situation and is in direct contact with the emergency response teams in the affected areas. Like the 2005 earthquake where the complete picture of the impact of the quake came to light 4-5 days later, we envision a similar time frame here. The difference is that we are ready to fly to the remotest region with emergency relief services at the word go. RMF would like to appeal for donations to assist us provide relief to these earthquake affected population.

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