Islamabad, Oct. 9: The emergency ward in the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences echoed with recitations from the holy Quran as 17-year-old Salman, a victim of the building collapse here in Saturday’s earthquake, breathed his last.
Shehnaz looked at her son with empty eyes, while relatives and friends held her. Salman lost his life in his praying mother’s arms.
On regaining senses, Shehnaz told reporters they were running down the emergency exit on the sixth floor at the Margella Towers complex when she saw Salman sink amid the debris as the building caved in. Some 150 people are feared trapped there.
Tales of trapped children came from northern Pakistan where at Balakot over 850 students were buried under the rubble of two schools, Reuters reported.
With hands, picks and shovels, desperate parents were struggling to reach the children in the valley in the mountains of the North West Frontier Province.
“Save me, call my mother, call my father,” came the faint voice of a boy, again and again.
Nearly 20,000 people are feared dead in Pakistan and the toll could reach 30,000. Northern Pakistan and Pakistan Kashmir were the worst affected. In Pakistan Kashmir capital Muzaffarabad, most houses, government buildings and shops had collapsed and frightened residents spent a chilly night camped in fields, parks, graveyards and cars.
One wing of the multi-storeyed Margella Towers was the only building to collapse in Islamabad, attracting charges of poor construction. “The government must hold a thorough inquiry into allegations that substandard material was used,” said Ahmad Sarwar, a resident of the posh F-10 sector.
Reports suggested that the construction company has used its influence in government to prevent official inspection of the building as top bureaucrats, military generals and politicians had invested in the project.
But in the hospital, the victims of the tragedy did not look like very important people. They were like Shehnaz who bought a flat a few years ago in a building that did not give her time to celebrate the success of her son in the recent ‘’ level examination.