Several world heritage sites in Pakistan have developed cracks after the devastating 7.5 quake, the strongest in 10 years, rocked the country last month, archaeologists said.
The sites of Takht Bhai and Julian of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa besides other sites including museums and artifacts of Gandhara Civilisation has developed cracks after the October 26 quake that killed at least 250 people .
The quake, which hit Afghanistan and Pakistan, especially the region having rich archaeological heritage, has caused losses of lives and properties, the Dawn newspaper reported.
“Yes, earthquake has caused a lot of damage to the sites and artifacts. After assessment, we would be soon compiling a complete report about it,” said Abdul Samad, archaeologist and director of archeology and museums of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“In Takht Bhai a wall has collapsed and cracks in structure are visible now,” Samad said while talking about the damage caused to a Unesco’s World Heritage Site in Mardan district.
Museums in Peshawar, Chitral, Dir and Swat also affected by the tremor. “The inner chamber has developed cracks in the earthquake. The big wall of the main assembly hall has leaned on one side,” eyewitnesses said.
Jamal Garhi, a Buddhist site in district Mardan, discovered by Sir Alexander Cunningham in 1848 which was on tentative list of World Heritage, was the worst affected as the walls had collapsed, Samad said.
Many of the walls leaned on one side due to powerful tremor. Another World Heritage site in Khanpur, named Julian, is also affected by the earthquake. The tremor has damaged a wall of the main monastery and chapel at Julian, the daily reported.
“I know the damages are huge and even government won’t be able to repair and save these sites on its own if it wants to do so,” Samad said.
Chitral Museum was also affected by the earthquake as its showcases fell down and antiques were broken. One of its walls also collapsed. The walls of Dir and Swat museums also developed cracks and the showcases got broken.
“In historic Peshawar Museum, a gallery has been affected by the tremor,” said Samad. Peshawar Museum, having a rich and rare collection of Gandhara Civilisation, has been established in an old British-era Victorian style building.
Samad said that most of the objects were damaged due to breakage of showcases where walls of the archaeological sites developed cracks.