On October 8, 2005, at 8:50 a.m. local time, a magnitude Mw = 7.6 earthquake struck the Himalayan region of northern Pakistan and Kashmir. The earthquake epicenter was located approximately 9 km north northeast of the city of Muzaffarabad, the capital of the Pakistani-administered part of Kashmir, known as Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK).
The Pakistani government’s official death toll as of November 2005 stood at 87,350, although it is estimated that the death toll could reach over 100,000. Approximately 38,000 were injured and over 3.5 million rendered homeless. According to government figures, 19,000 children died in the earthquake, most of them in widespread collapses of school buildings. The earthquake affected more than 500,000 families. In addition, approximately 250,000 farm animals died due to collapse of stone barns, and more than 500,000 large animals required immediate shelter from the harsh winter.
It is estimated that more than 780,000 buildings were either destroyed or damaged beyond repair, and many more were rendered unusable for extended periods of time. Out of these, approximately 17,000 school buildings and most major hospitals close to the epicenter were destroyed or severely dam- aged. Lifelines were adversely affected, especially the numerous vital roads and highways that were closed by landslides and bridge failures. Several areas remained cut off via land routes even three months after the main event. Power, water supply, and telecommunication services were down for varying lengths of time, although in most areas services were restored within a few weeks.