Asia World

Wed 22 June 2022:

Over 1,000 people have been killed and more than 1,500 injured in southeastern Afghanistan, the Culture and Information Department has told Al Jazeera.

Neighbouring Pakistan’s Meteorological Department said the quake’s epicentre was in Afghanistan’s Paktika province, some 50 kilometres (31 miles) southwest of the city of Khost. Buildings were also damaged in Khost province, and tremors were felt some 375 kilometres (230 miles) away in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

“At least 218 people have been killed and more than 300 injured in an earthquake in #Paktika’s Giani district alone. So far, the number of martyrs in #Paktika has reached 381,” Abdul Wahid Rayan, a Taliban official and director-general of state-run Bakhtar News Agency, tweeted earlier.

The tremors shook the eastern border provinces of Khost and Paktika last night, causing huge destructions in the areas.

Afghan officials said the death toll could rise as dozens of people are in critical condition.

Muhammad Amin Huzaifa, head of Paktika Culture and Information Department, told Al Jazeera the earthquake made victims in Geyan, Zerok, Barmal and Naka districts of the Paktika province.

Homes were razed to the ground and hundreds of people were likely trapped under the rubbles, Huzaifa said.

“I have tragic reports from my native Paktika province, where hundreds of people are killed and wounded in the devastating earthquakes. The homes are destroyed, and people are under the rubbles,” Khalid Zadran, a police spokesman in the capital Kabul, said in a tweet.

“Aid teams from Kabul have reached the area and rescue work is underway. All aid organizations should direct their aid to Paktika,” he added.

Taliban officials have also requested immediate assistance in the quake-hit areas.

Videos and photos circulating on social media show houses razed to the ground in the last night’s devastating earthquake.

Helicopters taking bodies, wounded to Kabul and other provinces

Rescuers have rushed to the remote Paktika province by helicopter, some 50 kilometres (31 miles) southwest of the city of Khost.

People wrapped in blankets were waiting to board helicopters, the Associated Press reported. Some were treated on the ground.

Ismail Zadran, a local resident and social activist of Zerok district of Paktika province, told Al Jazeera that 152 people were killed in the Geyan district and several hundred were wounded. In Danggar Algad area, in the Barmal district of Paktika province, 140 people were killed and several hundred people were wounded.

 UN, EU offer emergency assistance to affected communities

The United Nations and European Union have offered assistance in response to the magnitude 5.9 earthquake that struck Afghanistan’s southeastern provinces.

“Inter-agency assessment teams have already been deployed to a number of affected areas,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in Afghanistan tweeted.

Tomas Niklasson, EU special 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.”

Taliban calls for international aid as Western sanctions persist

Mounting a rescue operation could prove a major test for the Taliban, who took over the country in August and have been cut off from much international assistance because of sanctions.

Afghanistan’s emergency response teams had been stretched thin even before the Taliban takeover as they dealt with natural disasters that frequently struck the country.

Anas Haqqani, a senior Taliban official, said “the government is working within its capabilities.”

“We hope that the International Community & aid agencies will also help our people in this dire situation,” he wrote on Twitter.






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