At least 920 killed in Afghanistan earthquake
NNN: A powerful earthquake struck a remote border region of Afghanistan overnight, killing at least 920 people and injuring hundreds more, officials said on Wednesday, with the death toll expected to rise as rescuers dig into homes. collapsed.
The 5.9-magnitude quake hit hardest in the rugged terrain to the east, where people are already living in difficult conditions in a country mired in a humanitarian disaster made worse by the Taliban’s seizure of power in August.
The death toll has risen steadily throughout the day as news of casualties trickled in from hard-to-reach areas in the mountains, with the country’s supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada warning it was likely to rise further.
“So far, the information we have is that at least 920 people have been martyred and 600 injured,” Sharafuddin Muslim, deputy minister for disaster management, told a news conference in the capital Kabul.
Earlier, a tribal leader from Paktika province, one of the hardest-hit areas, said survivors and rescuers were rushing to help those affected.
“Local markets are closed and all the people have rushed to the affected areas,” Yaqub Manzor told AFP by phone.
Photographs and video clips posted on social media showed dozens of badly damaged mud houses in remote rural areas.
Some footage showed local residents loading the victims into a military helicopter.
Offers of help Even before the Taliban took power, Afghanistan’s emergency response teams went to great lengths to deal with the natural disasters that frequently hit the country.
But with only a handful of airworthy planes and helicopters, immediate response is often limited.
“The government is working within its capabilities,” tweeted Anas Haqqani, a senior Taliban official.
“We hope that the international community and aid agencies will also help our people in this desperate situation.”
The United Nations and the European Union were quick to offer help.
“Inter-agency assessment teams have already been deployed to several affected areas,” tweeted the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Afghanistan.
Tomas Niklasson, EU Special Envoy for Afghanistan, tweeted: “The EU is monitoring the situation and stands ready to coordinate and provide EU emergency assistance to affected people and communities.”
Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.
Dozens of people were killed and injured in January when two earthquakes rattled rural areas in western Badghis province, damaging hundreds of buildings.
In 2015, more than 380 people died in Pakistan and Afghanistan when a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck the two countries, with the majority of deaths in Pakistan.
From Vatican City, Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims of the latest earthquake.
“I express my closeness to the injured and those affected,” the 85-year-old pontiff said at the end of his weekly audience.
The latest earthquake came at a time when Afghanistan is grappling with a serious humanitarian disaster, made worse by the Taliban’s takeover of the country.
Aid agencies and the United Nations say Afghanistan needs billions of dollars this year to deal with the crisis.
Aid agencies have particularly emphasized the need for greater disaster preparedness in Afghanistan, which remains extremely susceptible to recurrent earthquakes, floods and landslides.
The quake was felt as far away as Lahore in Pakistan, 480 kilometers (300 miles) from the epicenter, according to responses posted on the USGS and European Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC) websites.
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