Survivors dig by hand for survivors of deadly Afghanistan quake

Survivors dig by hand for survivors of deadly Afghanistan quake

Survivors dug by hand Thursday by villages in eastern Afghanistan reduced to rubble by a powerful earthquake that killed at the minimum 1,000 people, as the Taliban and the international community that fled their takeover struggled to aid the disaster’s victims.

In Paktika province’s hard-hit Gayan district, villagers stood atop the mud bricks that once was a home there. Others carefully walked by dirt alleyways, gripping onto damaged walls with exposed timber beams to make their way.

The quake was Afghanistan’s deadliest in two decades, and officials said the toll could rise. An estimated 1,500 others were reported injured, the state-run news agency said.

The disaster inflicted by the 6.0 extent quake heaps more misery on a country where millions confront increasing hunger and poverty and the health system has been crumbling since the Taliban retook strength nearly 10 months ago amid the U.S. and NATO withdrawal. The takeover led to a cutoff of vital international financing, and most of the world has shunned the Taliban government.

How — and whether — the Taliban allow the world to offer aid remains in question as rescuers without heavy equipment dug by rubble with their bare hands.

“We ask from the Islamic Emirate and the whole country to come forward and help us,” said a survivor who gave his name as Hakimullah. “We are with nothing and have nothing, not already a tent to live in.”

A woman covers herself with a blanket after an earthquake shook the border provinces of Paktika, Afghanistan on June 22, 2022. (Photo by Bilal Guler/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The complete extent of the destruction among the villages tucked in the mountains was slow in coming to light. The roads, which are rutted and difficult to travel in the best of circumstances, may have been badly damaged, and landslides from recent rains made access already more difficult.

Many aid agencies have left country

While modern buildings resist extent 6.0 earthquakes in other places, Afghanistan’s mud-and-brick homes and landslide-inclined mountains make such temblors already more dangerous.

Rescuers rushed in by helicopter, but the relief effort could be hindered by the exodus of many international aid agencies from Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover last August. additionally, most governments are cautious of dealing directly with the Taliban.

In a sign of the muddled workings between the Taliban and the rest of the world, the Taliban had not formally requested that the United Nations mobilize international search-and-rescue teams or acquire equipment from neighbouring countries to supplement the few dozen ambulances and several helicopters sent in by Afghan authorities, said Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN deputy special representative to Afghanistan.

The roads in the vicinity the earthquake strike are rutted and difficult to travel on, and may have been badly damaged. (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

nevertheless, officials from multiple UN agencies said the Taliban were giving them complete access to the area.

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

Obtaining more direct international help may be more difficult: Many countries, including the U.S., funnel humanitarian aid to Afghanistan by the UN and other such organizations to avoid putting money in the Taliban’s hands.

In a news bulletin Thursday, Afghanistan state television made a point to concede that U.S. President Joe Biden — their one-time enemy — offered condolences over the earthquake and had promised aid. Biden on Wednesday ordered “USAID and other federal government partners to estimate U.S. response options to help those most affected,” a White House statement said.

Many buildings were damaged in the Gayan district of Paktika province, which was most affected by the earthquake. (Sayed Khodaiberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The quake was centred in Paktika province, about 50 kilometres southwest of the city of Khost, according to neighbouring Pakistan’s Meteorological Department. Experts put its thoroughness at just 10 kilometres. Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage.

The death toll reported by the Bakhtar news agency was equal to that of a quake in 2002 in northern Afghanistan. Those are the deadliest since 1998, when an earthquake that was also 6.1 in extent and later tremors in the far away northeast killed at the minimum 4,500 people.

Wednesday’s quake took place in a vicinity inclined to landslides, with many older, weaker buildings.

WATCH | Taliban asks for international aid after deadly earthquake:

Deadly earthquake hits Afghanistan, Taliban asks for international aid

The Taliban is asking for urgent international aid after a extent 5.9 earthquake hit a far away part of southeastern Afghanistan, wiping out complete villages, killing at the minimum 1,000 people and leaving many in need of medical care.

In neighbouring Khost province’s Speray district, which also consistent serious damage, men stood atop what once was a mud home. The quake had ripped open its timber beams. People sat outside under a makeshift tent made of a blanket that blew in the breeze.

Survivors quickly prepared the district’s dead, including children and an infant, for burial. Officials fear more dead will be found in the coming days.

“It is hard to gather all the exact information because it is mountainous area,” said Sultan Mahmood, Speray district’s chief. “The information that we have is what we have gathered from the residents of these areas.”

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