At least 1,000 people were killed and hundreds were injured on Wednesday after a powerful 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck Afghanistan.
An earthquake that struck eastern Paktika province early Wednesday struck the hardest-hit as the country grapples with a severe economic crisis and food shortages since the Taliban takeover in August last year.
“People are digging grave after grave,” Mohamed Amin Huzaifa, the head of the Department of Information and Culture, told AFP, adding that at least 1,000 people had died in that province alone. “It is raining too, and all the houses are ruined. People are still trapped under the rubble,” he told reporters.
The country’s Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada warned that the death toll continued to rise, adding that it was likely to rise further. Anas Haqqani, a senior Taliban official, urged the government to act within its capabilities and urged the international community for help. “We hope that the international community and aid agencies will also help our people in this dire situation,” he said in a tweet.
India said it was committed to providing assistance and assistance to Afghanistan in its “hour of need”. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that India shares the grief of the Afghan people. “India extends its sympathies and condolences to the victims and their families and to all those affected by the tragic earthquake in Afghanistan. We share the grief of the people of Afghanistan and are committed to providing support and assistance in this hour of need,” he said on Twitter. “We share the grief of the people of Afghanistan and are committed to providing help and support in this hour of need,” Bagchi said.
Afghan Ambassador Fareed Mamundje appreciated India’s solidarity and support in this “difficult time”.
“Appreciate India’s solidarity and support in this difficult time. The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan was already going from bad to worse and the occurrence of natural disasters like the recent earthquake has made life unbearable for many Afghans,” he tweeted.
Mamundze said there was an urgent need for international help to deal with both the humanitarian crisis and the damage caused by the natural disaster. “The casualties are likely to rise as the search operation is on in different parts of Paktika, Khost and Nangarhar,” he said.
The United Nations and the European Union have offered aid. “Inter-agency assessment teams have already been deployed to several affected areas,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in Afghanistan tweeted.
EU Special Envoy for Afghanistan Tomas Niklasson tweeted: “The EU is monitoring the situation and stands ready to coordinate and provide EU emergency assistance to affected people and communities.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for solidarity with the international community to help families in the country, who were already grappling with the effects of conflict, economic hardship and hunger. “I was saddened to hear about the tragic loss of life caused by the earthquake that struck earlier today local time near the city of Khost. Hundreds have reportedly been killed and injured, and this tragic toll could rise,” Guterres said. .
“We count on the international community to assist the hundreds of families affected by this latest disaster. Now is the time for solidarity,” he said. Expressing his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wishing the injured a speedy recovery, Guterres said the United Nations in Afghanistan is fully prepared. “Our team is already assessing the needs and providing initial support.”
A joint statement by the Afghan embassies urged international organizations to provide assistance and assistance. “The diplomatic mission calls for the generous support of all countries, organizations to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the thousands of survivors of the earthquake,” it said. It called for the flag of the “Islamic Republic Mission” to be kept at half-mast until sunset on Thursday.
limited rescue response
Afghanistan’s emergency response teams were augmented to deal with the disaster as there were only a handful of airplanes and helicopters left since the Taliban came back to power. Afghanistan is frequently vulnerable to earthquakes – particularly in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.
Scores of people were killed and injured in two earthquakes that struck rural areas in the western province of Badghis in January, damaging hundreds of buildings.
In 2015, more than 380 people were killed in Pakistan and Afghanistan when a 7.5-magnitude earthquake struck both countries, with a large number of deaths in Pakistan.
(with inputs from agencies)
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