Kabul: Rescue workers in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday continued relief efforts to help survivors of a severe earthquake. At least 1,000 people died in the mountainous region, according to official figures.
A 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck Pakistan’s adjoining Paktika and Khost provinces on Tuesday night, leaving people sleeping inside and houses destroyed.
Paktika was the worst affected, with officials estimating that more than 1,000 people were killed and more than 1,500 injured in the province’s Gayan and Barmal districts alone.
The extent of the destruction in villages nestled in the mountains was slow to come to light, as search and rescue efforts were hampered by heavy rains and poor connectivity in the affected areas. UN World Food Program teams deployed to deliver emergency supplies estimated that more than 70 percent of homes in the worst-affected areas were destroyed.
“The whole area looks like an open camp,” Qais Mohammed Muslim, an aid worker who arrived in Gyan district, told Arab News. “People have no shelter and food to eat. The assistance that has (reached) so far in the region is meager and insufficient.”
Abdul Kudos, a resident of Paktika, said he had never experienced a powerful and devastating earthquake.
“Entire villages in Barmal and Gyan districts were submerged in mud. There are families who lost all members,” he said. “We must do everything possible to help them. The international community must provide immediate assistance to avoid further harm and harm.”
The response is complicated as rescue teams operate without heavy equipment and proper medical aid, after many organizations relied on aid pulled out of the country when the Taliban seized power last August.
In the wake of the Taliban government’s call for foreign aid, its chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Thursday that planes with aid had already arrived from Qatar and Iran, and trucks with food reached Paktika by road from Pakistan.
But more help is needed.
Naeem Hakim of the Afghan aid group Ehsaas Welfare and Social Services Organization, who arrived in Paktika on Wednesday, said local hospitals were struggling to treat the injured.
“There is an urgent need for blood for the seriously injured and for medicine,” he told Arab News. “Since yesterday six hundred to 700 injured have been brought to the nearest hospital in Urgun district. There are about 200 still today. The more serious ones are transferred to the military hospital in the provincial capital Sharana, the provincial hospital and hospitals in Gardez and Ghazni. ,
The earthquake was the deadliest in Afghanistan since 1998, when a 6.5-magnitude tremor struck Takhar province in the country’s north, killing more than 4,000 people.
UN Special Deputy Representative for Afghanistan Ramiz Alkabarov said on Wednesday that at least $15 million in aid is needed to deal with the disaster – a figure expected to increase in the coming days.