GUYAN – The death toll from a devastating earthquake in Afghanistan has continued to rise days after it turned brick and stone homes into rubble, killing 1,150 people and wounding dozens more, according to the latest state media reports on Friday.
The country of 38 million people was already in the midst of a spiraling economic crisis that plunged millions deep into poverty with more than a million children at risk of severe malnutrition.
A magnitude 6 earthquake struck Wednesday night as people slept, leaving thousands homeless. State media reported that nearly 3,000 houses were destroyed or severely damaged.
Aid organizations such as the local Red Crescent and the World Food Program have intervened to help the most vulnerable families with food and other urgent needs such as tents and bedding in Paktika Province, the epicenter of the earthquake, and the neighboring Host province.
However, the residents seemed largely on their own to cope with the consequences as their new Taliban-led government and the international humanitarian community struggled to help. The villagers bury their dead and dig into the ruins by hand in search of survivors.
The director of the Taliban’s state news agency, Bakhtar, said on Friday that the death toll had risen to 1,150 from previous reports of 1,000 killed. Abdul Wahid Ryan said at least 1,600 people were injured.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has put the death toll at 770.
It is not clear how the death toll is reached, given the difficulties in accessing and communicating with the affected villages. Both grim casualties would make the earthquake in Afghanistan the deadliest in two decades.
At least 1,000 homes in Guyana County were damaged by the quake. Another 800 homes in the Spera area of Host province were also damaged. While modern buildings withstand magnitude 6 earthquakes elsewhere, mud brick houses in Afghanistan and landslide-prone mountains make such quakes more dangerous.
In villages in the Gayan district, surrounded by Associated Press reporters for hours on Thursday, families who had spent the previous rainy night outdoors were lifting pieces of timber from collapsed roofs and pulling stones by hand in search of missing loved ones. Taliban fighters were moving in vehicles in the area, but only a few were seen helping dig up the rubble.
There were few traces of heavy equipment – only one bulldozer was seen being transported. Ambulances traveled, but little other help for the living was evident. A 6-year-old boy in Guyana burst into tears when he said his parents, two sisters and a brother were dead. He had escaped from the ruins of his own home and had taken refuge with neighbors.
Many international aid agencies withdrew from Afghanistan when the Taliban seized power last August. Those who remain are struggling to deliver medical supplies, food and tents to the remote quake-hit area, using shabby mountain roads aggravated by damage and rain. UN agencies are also facing a $ 3 billion funding shortfall for Afghanistan this year.
Germany, Norway and several other countries have said they are sending aid for the quake, but have said they will only work through UN agencies, not the Taliban, which no government has yet officially recognized. The nations called on the Taliban to first address human rights issues, especially the rights and freedoms of Afghan women and girls.
The International Rescue Committee has emergency medical teams in both provinces to provide first aid, and said it is providing financial support to families who have lost their homes and livelihoods in the quake. The organization, which has been working in Afghanistan since 1988, is calling for international efforts to finally release Afghanistan’s foreign exchange reserves.
The takeover of the country by the Taliban last year as the United States prepared to withdraw troops sparked a decision by the Biden administration to freeze some $ 9.5 billion of Afghanistan’s central bank in US banks, thwarting new government efforts to pay government officials. employees and import goods.
Trucks with food and other necessities arrived from Pakistan, and planes filled with humanitarian aid landed from Iran and Qatar. Humanitarian aid from India and a technical team to the capital Kabul to coordinate the delivery of humanitarian aid. India says its aid will be handed over to a UN agency on the ground and to the Afghan Red Crescent Society.
In the province of Paktika, the earthquake shook a region of deep poverty, where residents make a living in the few fertile areas among the harsh mountains. The roads are so difficult that some villages in Guyana County take all day to get from Kabul, even though it is only 175 kilometers (110 miles) away.
There are estimates quoted by the UN and others that poverty levels could rise to 97% of the population and unemployment to 40% this year.
Associated Press authors Rahim Fayez of Islamabad, Pakistan and Aya Batraoui in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to the report.
Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
The death toll from the earthquake in Afghanistan has risen to 1,150
Source link The death toll from the earthquake in Afghanistan has risen to 1,150