An earthquake measuring 7.7 and centered in the mountainous Hindukush region has shaken Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pakistani officials say the death toll in their country from the Afghan earthquake has risen to 145, bringing the overall total to at least 180. Inayatullah Khan, Pakistan’s provincial minister, has claimed that the death toll from the earthquake in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province alone jumped to 121.

Peshawar has been sealed, while online monitoring systems are being installed for many areas. However, looking at the chaos and destruction that the media is highlighting, it is safe to say that we really were not prepared for this. It is even more worrying to know that this could have been much worse, as it was in 2005. Natural disasters always leave behind substantial damage, but unless a proper warning and rehabilitation system is put into place, that destruction becomes irrevocable. Experts claim that this earthquake was a deep-focus one, rather than a shallow one, leading to comparatively less damage. Who knows what will happen next time. There are measures that can be taken to help prevent the landslides and housing and construction can also be improved to be earthquake resistant or cause minimal damage to people. Yet, in the last ten years, no efforts have been made to explore such options.

Additionally, rather than talking about relief and prevention from unavoidable natural phenomena, people have taken to social and traditional media to say that the disaster is a result of the “immoral” behaviour of people. This type of flippancy in the face of crisis needs to end if we want to understand the actual reasons behind such disasters and create awareness for our own protection. It is ethically wrong, to attribute the death and pain of innocent people to immoral proclivities and point to a lack of respect for victims as well as for factual information.

The loss of life in regrettable, and we must work in partnership with local organisations as they are the first ones to respond to a crisis like this. People need to be aware of the dangers of aftershocks; especially as they are being repeatedly felt across the region. In this time of tragedy let us also not forget the victims of the 2005 earthquake, and the fact that there are things beyond our power and perception that will test us, and we must stand together as a nation and as humanity to protect each other.