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Pakistan quake causes cracks in World Heritage sites

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Islamabad: The 7.5 magnitude earthquake that rocked Pakistan last week caused cracks in the country’s World Heritage sites of Takht-i-Bahi and Jaulian as well as in museums and artefacts of Gandhara Civilization, officials said.

The Takht-i-Bahi, a Parthian archaeological site in Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and Jaulian ruins of an ancient Buddhist monastery in Haripur district developed cracks following the October 26 earthquake, Dawn online reported.

“The quake caused a lot of damage to the sites and artefacts. After assessment, we would compile a complete report about it,” said Abdul Samad, director of archaeology and museums of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The quake, which also hit India and Afghanistan, killed at least 250 people in Pakistan and damaged properties.

“In Takht-i-Bahi a wall has collapsed and cracks in structure are visible now,” said Samad.

“The inner chamber developed cracks. The wall of the main assembly hall has leaned on one side,” an eyewitness said.

Jamal Garhi, a Buddhist site, which was on tentative list of World Heritage, was the worst affected as the walls have collapsed, Samad said.

Sharing initial reports of the damage compiled by the archaeology department, he said teams were sent out to the sites to assess the damage after the quake.

The site of Jamal Garhi, discovered by Sir Alexander Cunningham in 1848, is located in Mardan district.

Jaulian, another World Heritage site in Khanpur city of Punjab province, was also affected by the quake. The tremor damaged a wall of the monastery and chapel.

“I know the damages are huge and even government would not be able to save these sites on its own,” Samad said, pointing out how little was spent on archaeology in Pakistan.

Chitral museum was also affected by the earthquake as its showcases toppled over and antiques were broken.

One of its walls also collapsed. The walls of Dir and Swat museums also developed cracks and the showcases broke.

“In historic Peshawar museum, a gallery has been affected by the tremor,” said Samad.

Peshawar museum, having a rich and rare collection of Gandhara Civilization, has been established in an old British-era Victorian style building.

Despite having rich archeological sites and artefacts including rare statues of the Buddha, there is no earthquake resistant museum or gallery in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Gor Khattree, another important site in the middle of Peshawar city, has also been damaged.