Desperate rescuers battled towards the clock Thursday beneath pouring rain to drag survivors from the rubble after a strong quake struck a mountainous border area of Afghanistan, killing a minimum of 1,000 folks.
The 5.9-magnitude quake struck hardest within the rugged east, the place folks already lead hardscrabble lives amid a humanitarian disaster made worse because the Taliban takeover in August.
“People are digging grave after grave,” mentioned Mohammad Amin Huzaifa, head of the Information and Culture Department in hard-hit Paktika, including that a minimum of 1,000 folks had died in that province alone.
He mentioned greater than 1,500 folks had been injured, many critically.
“People are still trapped under the rubble,” he advised journalists.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres mentioned the worldwide company has “fully mobilised” to assist, deploying well being groups and provides of drugs, meals, trauma kits and emergency shelter to the quake zone.
The toll climbed steadily Wednesday as information of casualties filtered in from hard-to-reach areas within the mountains, and the nation’s supreme chief, Hibatullah Akhundzada, warned it could possible rise additional.
The earthquake struck areas that had been already struggling the results of heavy rain, inflicting rockfalls and mudslides that hampered rescue efforts.
“It was a horrible situation,” mentioned Arup Khan, 22, recovering at a hospital in Paktika’s provincial capital Sharan.
“There were cries everywhere. The children and my family were under the mud.”
‘Like a tsunami’
Sharan Hospital director Mohammad Yahya Wiar mentioned they had been doing their greatest to deal with everybody.
“Our country is poor and lacks resources,” he advised AFP. “This is a humanitarian crisis. It is like a tsunami.”
Photographs and video posted on social media confirmed scores of badly broken homes in distant areas. The UN humanitarian coordinator for Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov, advised reporters practically 2,000 houses are possible destroyed.
Footage launched by the Taliban confirmed folks in a single village digging a protracted trench to bury the lifeless, who by Islamic custom should be laid to relaxation dealing with Mecca.
The catastrophe poses an enormous problem for the Taliban, who’ve largely remoted the nation with their hardline Islamist insurance policies — significantly the subjugation of girls and women.
Even earlier than the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan’s emergency response groups had been stretched to cope with the pure disasters that ceaselessly strike the nation.
But with solely a handful of airworthy planes and helicopters left since they returned to energy, any speedy response to the newest disaster is additional restricted.
“The government is working within its capabilities,” tweeted Anas Haqqani, a senior Taliban official.
“We hope that the International Community & aid agencies will also help our people in this dire situation.”
Offers of assist
The United States, whose troops helped topple the preliminary Taliban regime and remained in Afghanistan for twenty years till Washington pulled them out final yr, was “deeply saddened” by the earthquake, the White House mentioned.
“President Biden is monitoring developments and has directed USAID (US Agency for International Development) and other federal government partners to assess US response options to help those most affected,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan mentioned in an announcement.
The European Union was additionally fast to supply help.
Tomas Niklasson, EU particular envoy for Afghanistan, tweeted: “The EU is monitoring the situation and stands ready to coordinate and provide EU emergency assistance to people and communities affected.”
Neighbour Pakistan, the place officers mentioned one individual was killed within the quake, mentioned it could ship emergency support — together with tents — throughout the border.
Prayers for victims
Afghanistan is ceaselessly hit by earthquakes, particularly within the Hindu Kush mountain vary, which lies close to the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.
Scores of individuals had been killed in January when two quakes struck the western province of Badghis.
In 2015, greater than 380 folks had been killed in Pakistan and Afghanistan when a 7.5-magnitude earthquake ripped throughout the 2 nations.
Afghanistan’s deadliest latest earthquake killed 5,000 in May 1998 within the northeastern provinces of Takhar and Badakhshan.
From the Vatican, Pope Francis supplied prayers for victims of the newest quake.
“I express my closeness with the injured and those who were affected,” the 85-year-old pontiff mentioned concluding his weekly viewers.
The quake struck within the early hours of Wednesday at a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles), in keeping with the United States Geological Survey.
It was felt as distant as Lahore in Pakistan, 480 kilometres from the epicentre.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is printed from a syndicated feed.)