Asia World

Thu 23 June 2022:

Poor communications and a lack of functional roads are making it difficult for Afghan authorities to access a rural location that was affected by an earthquake that killed at least 1,000 people, according to officials.

“We can’t reach the area, the networks are too weak, we trying to get updates,” Mohammad Ismail Muawiyah, a spokesman for the top Taliban military commander in hardest-hit Paktika province, told Reuters news agency on Thursday, referring to telephone networks.

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck early on Wednesday in barren highlands dotted with small towns close to the Pakistani border, about 160 km (100 miles) southeast of Kabul. Survivors dug by hand through villages reduced to rubble.

Officials warned that the death toll could increase. The earthquake was Afghanistan’s deadliest in 20 years. 1,500 other people were reportedly injured.

Roadblocks caused by the earthquake and other landslides from recent heavy rains have made it difficult to reach the devastated eastern regions of Khost and Paktika.

Villagers were sitting on a pile of mud bricks that had previously been a house in Paktika’s severely damaged Gayan area. Others cautiously made their way through muddy alleyways, clinging to broken walls with exposed timber beams.

Survivors quickly prepared the district’s dead, including children and an infant, for burial.

“We ask the Islamic emirate and the whole country to come forward and help us,” a survivor, who gave his name as Hakimullah, told The Associated Press. “We are with nothing and have nothing, not even a tent to live in.”

Helicopters were used to reach the injured and deliver urgent medical supplies and food provisions. Authorities confirmed 1,800 households have been destroyed.

 The Taliban government has appealed for international aid. Most aid agencies pulled out of the country and many governments imposed sanctions on Afghanistan’s banking sector and cut billions of dollars worth of aid after the Taliban took control in August last year.

“Despite the sanctions that have been imposed by the international community, the government has done whatever it can in its capacity and the Afghan Red Crescent has immediately dispatched emergency aid to the area, along with the Turkish Red Crescent and other agencies,” Balkhi said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid wrote on Twitter that eight trucks of food and other necessities from Pakistan arrived in Paktika. He also said on Thursday that two planes of humanitarian aid from Iran and another from Qatar had arrived in the country.

Neil Turner, country director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Afghanistan, said in a statement that Taliban authorities had granted humanitarian agencies full access to affected areas.

However, according to Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN deputy special representative to Afghanistan, the Taliban did not formally request that the UN mobilise international search-and-rescue teams or obtain equipment from neighbouring countries.

Many international aid agencies are wary of dealing directly with the Taliban due to sweeping international sanctions, while others have left Afghanistan altogether after the Taliban takeover last August.

 The United States on Wednesday expressed sorrow and said it would look for ways to help, including through potential talks with Taliban rulers.

“President Biden is monitoring developments and has directed USAID and other federal government partners to assess US response options to help those most affected,” Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, said.

The Khost province, one of the most affected by the earthquake, is home to thousands of internally displaced Afghans, returnees, and refugees from Waziristan who had already been displaced.

The death toll reported as of Thursday was equal to that of a quake in 2002 in northern Afghanistan. Those are the deadliest since 1998, when an earthquake of 6.1 in magnitude and subsequent tremors in the remote northeast killed at least 4,500 people.






Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *