ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid has said that all institutions of the country worked hand in hand with speed and efficiency to tackle the situation arising out of Monday’s earthquake. He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif along with Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa visited Shangla yesterday which was one of worst earthquake hit areas and met affected people there and received briefing on damages, rescue and relief efforts.

Addressing a press conference along with National Disaster Management Authority Chairman Major General Asghar Nawaz, he said all possible resources were exploited to save human lives and restore communication links.

The NDMA chief informed the media that NDMA was mobilising all possible relief and rescue efforts to save the lives of people in affected areas. He said NDMA had requested and further provided a helicopter to KP Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) for rescue operations. The helicopter has reached KP and has started rescue operation. NDMA has released 2,500 blankets, 3,250 tents and 3,000 floor mats to KP so far, he added.

Nawaz said the epicenter of earthquake was the Hindu Kush region and the depth of earthquake was more than 200km. He said his region had faced 1,280 earthquakes of around magnitude 7.0 on Richter scale from 1900 to 2015. He said 18 aftershocks measuring 2.2 to 5.01 magnitudes have been recorded after major earthquake so far. He mentioned Pakistan Air force has been requested to carry out aerial photography to analyse the extent of infrastructure damages and SUPARCO has also been asked to provide satellite imageries. He said NDMA through Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has issued SMS alerts in quake-hit areas of Shangla, Upper Dir, Chitral and Bajaur Agency. He said all relevant agencies were on board and Urban Search and Rescue Teams (USAR teams) and other emergency services have also been put on high alert.

Chairman NDMA said authority was gathering information from all possible sources and all DMAs have been requested to share information on losses for quickest mobilisation for possible relief assistance. NDMA in collaboration with Pakistan Armed Forces and all relevant departments were ready to cope with the situation, he added. He said the NDMA team has also been sent to the quake affected area of Chitral to assess damages. National Emergency Operation Centre of NDMA has been activated and is functioning 24/7, he said.

He said Karakorum Highway affected from 45 sites but 43 have been recovered and opened for traffic. He said Naran-Kaghan road has also been opened and all visitors have been rescued. National Highway Authority has also been directed to mobilise its sources and to prepare the assessment report of roads and bridges damages immediately, he added. He said five army medical teams were at standby and one team will be sent to Shangla district on Wednesday (today) for providing the medical assistance to affectees. National Logistic Cell also contacted the NDM and offered vehicles for delivering aid to affected areas, he added. He said NDMA has set up its help centre in the areas of Dir and Temargarah. He said Gilgit-Baltistan government was in contact with federal government and NDMA but situation was in control in G-B province and there was no need of any aid or assistance.