Imran assures ‘every possible step’ for earthquake victims’ relief

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday assured the victims of a recent earthquake in Azad Jammu and Kashmir that the government was working on a relief and rehabilitation package for the affected families.

During a meeting with AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, Prime Minister Imran was briefed on the losses as well as rescue, relief and rehabilitation measures taken by the AJK officials.

The meeting, chaired by the Pakistani premier, was also attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur and National Disaster Management Authority Chairman Lt Gen Mohammad Afzal.

PM Imran also visited the divisional headquarters hospital to inquire after the health of some of the survivors being treated there. During his visit, he expressed his “grief” over the losses caused by the earthquake.

“I was [on my trip to] the United Nations when I heard about the earthquake and I was extremely saddened,” he was quoted as saying by his official team. “I wanted to visit immediately but my return from the United States was delayed.

“The people of Mirpur, who suffered […] losses, have my greatest sympathies. I can feel your pain.”

“Every possible step for the [assistance] of earthquake victims will be taken immediately,” he assured.

Strict security arrangements were made in the area ahead of Prime Minister Imran’s visit.

According to Divisional Commissioner Chaudhry Tayyab, the number of the people with serious and minor injuries was 172 and 680, respectively, in Mirpur district. Of the seriously injured persons, 27 were still being treated at Divisional Headquarters Hospital and three in the Combined Military Hospital, Mangla, while the rest had been discharged, he said.

Mirpur district suffered the most damage from the 5.6 magnitude earthquake, that rocked parts of Punjab as well as some of the country’s northern areas on September 24. About 40 people died, 38 of whom belonged to the Mirpur district, Tayyab had said.

At the time, the premier was in New York, where he had gone to attend the 74th annual session of the United Nations General Assembly. He returned to Islamabad on Sunday.

On Friday, he had announced Rs500,000 compensation for each person killed in the quake in AJK and Punjab.

Tayyab said the cheques for the amount would be distributed among dependants of the deceased on Monday, most probably by AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider who had reached Mirpur to receive the prime minister.

However, no announcement has yet been made about compensation to the injured or for those who had suffered property losses, neither by the federal nor by the AJK government.

Under the AJK Natural Calamities and Distressed Persons Act, 2011, compensation for each deceased and injured person is Rs150,000 and Rs50,000, respectively. The compensation for the destroyed or damaged concrete house is Rs100,000 and for the katcha house Rs60,000.