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Subject: Earthquake in Muzaffarabad

Earthquake in Muzaffarabad

From: Walter Henry <consdist-request<-a>
Date: Thursday, October 20, 2005
Nuzhat Rahman, of the Library of Congress reports

   "[T]he National Library of Muzaffarabad, was wiped off the face
    of the earth in [the] October 8 earthquake.  On that fateful
    morning while the fury of nature was unleashed the ground under
    [the] library split open and the whole building with all the
    staff, the readers and the treasures caved in leaving only the
    debris of its front entrance on the ground.  With 80% of the
    city along with its population perished there was no one to
    mourn this loss.

   "The only road from Islamabad to Muzaffarabad was blocked for a
    couple of days due to land slides and at some places parts of
    road vanished as the mountains ripped apart. The scale of
    devastation was known when rescue workers and media persons
    managed to reach Muzaffarabad, Mansehra, Balakot and Ravalakot,
    the worst hit cities. We learned that 80% of Muzaffarabad was
    destroyed, it is still littered with dead bodies and debris.

   "I was very anxious to find out about Khurshid National Library
    as it was my focal point during my acquisitions trips to
    Muzaffarabad.  In one of the TV reports I saw a portion of the
    debris of Khurshid National Library.  I tried to find out about
    the staff and the damage to the library but was unable to get
    any authentic information.  On Monday a friend from "The News"
    went to Muzaffarabad for some relief work and I requested him to
    find out about the library,  he called me yesterday and gave the
    details I have mentioned [above].  He went to the site and gave
    the graphic details of what he saw.  Usually the buildings
    collapse on the ground and if, not all, some are saved but most
    of the parts of this unfortunate library were buried deep down.

   "There were about 25 staff members working in two shifts most of
    the staff worked in the morning and some in the evening for
    general reading room and guard duties only.  I have been unable
    to find out about any of the staff not on duty at that time, who
    survived. Rescue and relief workers told my friend that when
    they came they could hear screams from the spot but were unable
    to dig out any one dead or alive from the buried library as it
    was an impossible task, they did not have any machinery or

   "I desperately want to go there and find out but at the moment
    the traffic on the road is very heavy with all the relief
    workers and it is taking 8 to 10 hours to reach there due to
    damaged road.  Also people not engaged in relief work are being
    discouraged from going there as the whole city is in ruins there
    is no water, no electricity and hygienic conditions due to
    decomposing bodies are precarious, the prime minster of Azad
    Kashmir is living in a tent and has said "I am the prime
    minister of a graveyard."  On top of that because of some
    criminal minded elements involved in mugging and looting even in
    such circumstances have created the security problems as well on
    the way and in the ghost city especially for women.

   "I am shattered, I knew most of the staff there, who were very
    helpful and despite the intelligence agencies moles shadowing me
    all the time these very friendly people always welcomed me and
    helped me acquire material some of which would not have been
    acquired without their help.

   "This was the largest library of the area.  The AJK university is
    also destroyed completely along with its library, the human loss
    is so great that it will take quite a while to think and find
    out about other things.

   "There were small libraries in all the cities which have been
    destroyed.  We have a recently published directory of libraries
    in Pakistan, I will consult it tomorrow and will let you know
    the details of libraries in four cities, which have been
    destroyed completely, where not a single house is intact.

   "If and when I get any information about the fate of Khurshid
    National Library and AJK Library and if any of the staff or
    books were saved, I will let you know. Also, if I come across
    any documents or news story or article about the libraries in
    the affected area I will definitely let you know.  I do hope and
    pray that by some miracle I will have good news about the staff
    and the books."

The American Library Association has posted an article about this
with some additional detail. See


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                  Conservation DistList Instance 19:23
                 Distributed: Friday, October 28, 2005
                       Message Id: cdl-19-23-001
Received on Thursday, 20 October, 2005

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