More than a thousand people died and another 1,500 were injured in the 5.9 magnitude earthquake that shook eastern Afghanistan last night, where in the most affected district 70% of homes were destroyed or damaged, while rescue teams try to locate survivors under the rubble.

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The earthquake surprised people in their sleep, with little time to flee outside their flimsy adobe houses in the remote eastern provinces of Khost, where the epicenter was registered, or Paktika, the most affected by the tragedy.

The number of deceased amounts to 1,030, but the authorities warn that the figures could increase as the rescue work progresses, while as Islamic tradition dictates, mass burials began, without time to watch over the corpse.

The Department of Information and Culture of Paktika assured the Afghan state news agency Bakhtar that only in the districts of Gayan and Barmal in that province, more than 1,000 people died and more than 1,500 were injured, without providing further details.

In addition, previously a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Disaster Management and Response, Mohammad Nasim Haqqani, told Efe that 25 people had died in Khost, while another five died in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

The earthquake happened near the border with Pakistan, where at least one person died “when the roof of his house collapsed,” Taimoor Ali, spokesman for the Disaster Management Authority of the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told Efe. produced the event.

The Taliban government ordered to make all its resources available to care for those affected in the worst catastrophe recorded in the Asian country in decades.

Taliban top leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada instructed “the Ministry of Disaster Management, relevant officials, provincial governors and the Afghan people to use all their resources to reach the families of the victims, bring out the dead , and take the wounded to the hospital,” the government said.

The Islamic Emirate (official name of the Afghan Taliban regime) also called on the international community and humanitarian organizations “to help the families of the victims in this great disaster and provide the greatest possible assistance,” the statement added. .

Several humanitarian organizations are already working on the ground in coordination with local authorities to try to rescue possible survivors of the catastrophe and care for those affected, according to a statement from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). ).

The tragedy hit Gayan, in Paktika, above all, where according to OCHA “up to 1,800 homes were destroyed or damaged (…) which represents 70%” of the buildings in that district.

To speed up rescue efforts and the transfer of injured people to the nearest hospitals, five helicopters from the Afghan Ministry of Defense, more than 50 ambulances and multiple teams of health workers have been deployed in Paktika and Khost.

However, the heavy rains and the wind that hit the area did not allow several of the helicopters to land this afternoon, OCHA continued, so the transfer of the wounded to the hospital centers is being carried out by conventional roads that have been cut off to private traffic.

“At the moment, at least 130 wounded have been transferred” and admitted to hospitals, OCHA said.

Beyond sending assistance and medical supplies, the organization requested the support of the WASH program, in charge of sanitizing and sanitizing water to allow human consumption, and thus avoid possible diseases that can be triggered by its contamination due to this type of natural disaster.

For its part, the UNICEF representative in Afghanistan, Mohamed Ayoya, warned of the situation of vulnerability in which the earthquake leaves thousands of children, while stating that the Afghan authorities had requested their help.

Humanitarian aid was already a vital issue in Afghanistan, immersed in a humanitarian crisis since the Islamists came to power almost a year ago, and international sanctions. With scant resources, the Taliban had trouble meeting the country’s basic needs, let alone major emergencies.

Added to the earthquake are the torrential rains that have affected eight of the 34 Afghan provinces for days, including Paktika, with at least eleven dead and 50 injured, and more than 500 houses destroyed, according to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Response.

Afghanistan usually suffers from earthquakes that leave dozens of victims, especially in the area known as Hindu Kush, with great seismic activity and the usual point of origin of telluric movements in the region.

Some of the biggest catastrophes in Afghanistan caused by earthquakes occurred in 1998 in the north of the country, when in February two earthquakes measuring 5.9 and 6 caused the death of some 4,000 people. A few months later, at the end of May, a magnitude 7 earthquake shook the area again, causing some 5,000 deaths.

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Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a freelance writer working on news website. He contributes to Our Blog and more. Wise also works in higher ed sustainability and previously in stream restoration. He loves running, trees and hanging out with her family.

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