EduHK 20220622-20220628

China Daily

Asia Pacific> Asia News> Content
Published: 14:06, June 22, 2022 | Updated: 11:13, June 23, 2022
Afghanistan quake kills at least 1,000, toll expected to rise
By Agencies
Published:14:06, June 22, 2022 Updated:11:13, June 23, 2022 By Agencies

In this image taken from video from Bakhtar State News Agency, Taliban fighters secure a government helicopter to evacuate injured people in Gayan district, Paktika province, Afghanistan, June 22, 2022. An earthquake struck eastern Afghanistan early Wednesday, killing at least 920 people, authorities said. (BAKHTAR STATE NEWS AGENCY VIA AP)

KABUL - The death toll from an earthquake in Afghanistan on Wednesday hit 1,000, disaster management officials said, with more than 600 injured and the toll expected to grow as information trickles in from remote mountain villages.

An unknown number of people remained stuck under rubble and in outlying areas, health and aid workers said, and rescue operations were complicated by difficult conditions including heavy rains, landslides and many villages being nestled in inaccessible hillside areas

Houses were reduced to rubble and bodies swathed in blankets lay on the ground after the magnitude 6.1 earthquake, photographs on Afghan media showed.

An unknown number of people remained stuck under rubble and in outlying areas, health and aid workers said, and rescue operations were complicated by difficult conditions including heavy rains, landslides and many villages being nestled in inaccessible hillside areas.

"Many people are still buried under the soil. The rescue teams of the Islamic Emirate have arrived and with the help of local people are trying to take out the dead and injured," a health worker at a hospital in the hard-hit Paktika province said, asking for anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to media.

Mounting a rescue operation will prove a major test for the Taliban authorities, who took over the country last August and have been cut off from much international assistance because of sanctions. The Taliban-led ministry of defense is leading rescue efforts.

ALSO READ: Death toll in Afghanistan's floods rises to 9

Loretta Hieber Girardet from the United Nations' disaster risk reduction office said efforts to provide relief and save people trapped under rubble would face huge challenges due to the terrain and weather.

"The roads are poor even at the best of times so having a humanitarian operation put in place is going to be immediately challenged by the lack of easy access to the area," she said, adding that rain combined with the tremor created a further risk of landslides for humanitarian workers.

Map showing the epicenter of a 6.1-magnitude quake in Afghanistan that hit in the early hours of June 22.

The roads are poor even at the best of times so having a humanitarian operation put in place is going to be immediately challenged by the lack of easy access to the area.

Loretta Hieber Girardet from the United Nations' disaster risk reduction office

The UN humanitarian office said it was deploying medical health teams and providing medical supplies.

Interior ministry official Salahuddin Ayubi said the death toll was likely to rise "as some of the villages are in remote areas in the mountains and it will take some time to collect details."

Deadliest quake in 20 years

Wednesday's quake was the deadliest in Afghanistan since 2002. It struck about 44 km from the southeastern city of Khost, near the border with Pakistan, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

Shaking was felt by about 119 million people in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) said on Twitter, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties in Pakistan.

Disaster experts and humanitarian workers said the impoverished hilly areas struck by the quake were especially vulnerable, with landslides and poorly built houses adding to widespread destruction

The EMSC put the earthquake's magnitude at 6.1, though the USGC said it was 5.9.

ALSO READ: China distributes humanitarian supplies to Afghanistan

Disaster experts and humanitarian workers said the impoverished hilly areas struck by the quake were especially vulnerable, with landslides and poorly built houses adding to widespread destruction.

"We were all sleeping at home... and the room fell over us," said Gul Faraz as he received treatment for injuries with his wife and children at a hospital in Paktika. Some family members had been killed, he said.

"All the houses in our area were destroyed, not one, but the entire region has been destroyed."

Afghan villagers collects belongings from under the rubble of a home that was destroyed in an earthquake in the Spera District of the southwestern part of Khost province, Afghanistan on June 22, 2022. (PHOTO / AP)

Most of the confirmed deaths were in the eastern province of Paktika, where 255 people were killed and more than 200 injured, Ayubi said. In the province of Khost, 25 were dead and 90 had been taken to hospital.

Adding to the challenge for Afghan authorities is recent flooding in many regions, which has blocked stretches of highway.

Most of the confirmed deaths were in the eastern province of Paktika, where 255 people were killed and more than 200 injured, Ayubi said. In the province of Khost, 25 were dead and 90 had been taken to hospital

Afghanistan is also grappling with a severe economic crisis. In response to the Taliban takeover last year, many countries imposed sanctions on Afghanistan's banking sector and cut billions of dollars in development aid.

Humanitarian aid has continued, however, from international agencies such as the United Nations.

A foreign ministry spokesman said the Taliban would welcome international help.

US President Joe Biden directed the US Agency for International Development and other federal government partners to assess US response options, the White House said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the United Nations was fully mobilized, assessing the needs and providing initial support.

"We count on the international community to help support the hundreds of families hit by this latest disaster. Now is the time for solidarity," he said in a statement.

READ MORE: Afghanistan facing profound humanitarian crisis, UN warns

Large parts of South Asia are seismically active because a tectonic plate known as the Indian plate is pushing north into the Eurasian plate. read more

In 2015, an earthquake struck the remote Afghan northeast, killing several hundred people in Afghanistan and nearby northern Pakistan.

Share this story

CHINA DAILY
HONG KONG NEWS
OPEN
Please click in the upper right corner to open it in your browser !