Survivors dumped villages in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, which were reduced to rubble by a powerful earthquake that killed at least 1,000 people as the Taliban and the international community fled their control and struggled to help the victims.
In the heavily affected Gayan district of Paktika province, villagers stood on mud bricks that were once home. The others walked cautiously through the dirt alleys, catching the damaged walls with open wooden beams to make their way.
The quake was the deadliest in Afghanistan in two decades, with officials saying the death toll could rise. About 1,500 people were reported injured, according to the state news agency.
A magnitude 6.0 earthquake shakes a country where millions of people are facing growing famine and poverty, and the health care system is crumbling since the Taliban regained power about 10 months ago outside the United States and NATO. on the background of coming. The seizure led to the cessation of vital international funding, and much of the world shunned the Taliban government.
How the Taliban allow the world to help is still in question, as rescuers dug through the rubble with their bare hands without heavy equipment.
“We ask the Islamic Emirate, to come forward from all over the country, to help us,” said one of the survivors, who gave his name as Hakimullah. “We have nothing and do not have, even to live in a tent.”
The whole devastation of the villages stuck in the mountains was slowly coming to an end. Roads that are cracked in the best conditions are difficult to walk on, can be severely damaged, and landslides have made access even more difficult due to recent rains.
Many aid agencies have left the country
While modern buildings can withstand magnitude 6.0 earthquakes, Afghanistan’s mud-brick houses and landslides make such tremors even more dangerous.
Rescuers rushed by helicopter, but rescue efforts could prevent many international aid agencies from fleeing Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control last August. Moreover, most governments fear direct contact with the Taliban.
As a sign of chaos among the Taliban, the Taliban have not formally requested that the UN mobilize international search and rescue teams or procure equipment from neighboring countries to deploy dozens of ambulances and several helicopters. They were sent by the Afghan authorities, said Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan.
However, officials at many UN agencies say the Taliban are giving full access to the area.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid wrote on Twitter that eight trucks of food and other necessities had arrived in Paktika from Pakistan. He said on Thursday that two planes of humanitarian aid had arrived from Iran, one from Qatar.
Getting more direct international help can be more difficult. Many countries, including the United States, provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan through the United Nations and other organizations to prevent the Taliban from losing money.
In a news release on Thursday, Afghan state television reported that US President Joe Biden, their former enemy, had expressed his condolences over the quake and promised to help. Biden on Wednesday “instructed USAID and other partners in the federal government to evaluate US response options to help those most affected,” the White House said in a statement.
According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department, the quake’s epicenter was located in Paktika province, about 50 km southwest of Khost. Specialists estimated its depth at only 10 kilometers. Surface earthquakes tend to cause more damage.
The death toll from the 2002 earthquake in northern Afghanistan was “equal” to that of the Bakhtar news agency. They are the deadliest since 1998, when a magnitude 6.1 earthquake and aftershocks in the far northeast killed at least 4,500 people.
Wednesday’s quake affected a landslide-prone area with much older, weaker buildings.
In the Spray district of Harjan Khost, which also suffered severe damage, men stood on top of a former muddy house. The earthquake tore its wooden beams. People were sitting outside under a temporary tent made of a blanket that was blowing in the wind.
Survivors quickly prepared the neighborhood for the dead, including children, including a baby. Officials fear more deaths in the coming days.
“It is difficult to gather all the accurate information, as it is a mountainous area,” said Sultan Mahmud, head of the Spera region. “The information we have is what we have collected from the residents of these areas.
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