By Islamuddin Sajid
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) - Pakistan on Tuesday marked the 14th anniversary of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the worst seismic disaster in the country's history that killed over 87,000 people in its northeast.
According to state-run Radio Pakistan, special prayer ceremonies were held in Muzaffarabad, capital city of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Balakot, the city of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, attended by locals and government officials.
The Azad Jammu and Kashmir administration designated Oct. 8 as a public holiday in the state, where hundreds gathered at University College Ground Muzaffarabad to pay homage to the victims of the 2005 disaster.
A minute of silence was observed at all district headquarters at 8.54 a.m. local time (0354GMT).
In a message, President Arif Alvi said the observance of National Resilience Day was an occasion to evaluate and reiterate commitment to be better prepared to face natural calamities and show resolve to reduce the risk of disasters.
"Pakistan observed the day to express solidarity and sympathy with families affected by natural calamities," said Alvi.
He also praised Pakistanis, who had exhibited courage, selflessness, sacrifice and resilience in the face of catastrophes.
Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated that the government would continue to adopt all possible measures for a disaster-resilient Pakistan through more effective prevention, mitigation and preparedness.
"Pakistan is committed to fulfill its responsibilities mandated under regional and global frameworks on disaster risk reduction to which we are a signatory," Khan said, expressing condolences to the families of victims who had lost their loved ones in the earthquake.
The prime minister honored the victims of recent earthquake in Mirpur, Azad Jammu and underlined that Islamabad would continue to provide all possible support to the people in the affected areas until their complete rehabilitation.
On Oct. 8, 2005, at 8.50 a.m. local time (0350GMT), a magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck the Himalayan region of northern Pakistan and Kashmir. Its epicenter was 19 kilometers northeast of Muzaffarabad.
According to the National Disaster Management Authority, a state-run coordination agency, over 87,350 people including 19,000 children lost their lives in the deadly quake while over 138,000 were injured.
It affected more than 500,000 families and 780,000 buildings including 17,000 schools with all major hospitals destroyed to varying degrees, leaving 3.5 million homeless. Around 250,000 farm animals were also killed due to collapses of stone barns.