Earthquake in eastern Afghanistan kills nearly 1,000
The 5.9-degree quake hit 10 km deep at 1:30 am in an area of difficult access near the Pakistani border.
almost a thousand people people died in an earthquake that affected the eastern region of Afghanistan on Wednesday, announced local authorities, who fear an even bigger toll.
O 5.9 magnitude earthquake took place in a remote area of the east of the country, close to the border with Pakistanwhere the population already lives in very precarious conditions.
“So far, according to the information we have, at least 920 people died and 600 were injured”said at a press conference the deputy minister of Natural Disaster Management, Sharafuddin Muslim.
The toll of the tragedy has rapidly mounted and the country’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, has warned that the numbers could be even higher.
The earthquake happened at 10 km depth, at 1:30 am, in an area of difficult access in the east of the country, informed the United States Geological Center (USGS). A second 4.5-degree quake hit the same area at about the same time.
“We urge aid agencies to provide immediate assistance to earthquake victims to avoid a humanitarian disaster,” said deputy government spokesman Bilal Karimi.
Yaqub Manzor, a tribal leader from Paktika, said many wounded are from Giyan district and were transported in ambulances and helicopters.
“Local markets are closed and people have rushed to help in the affected areas,” he told AFP by telephone.
Photos of destroyed homes in this poor and isolated rural region were circulated on social media. A video shows some residents carrying the wounded to a helicopter.
“Much of the region is mountainous and commuting is difficult. We will need time to transport the dead and the wounded”, explained the Minister of Natural Disaster Management, Mohamad Abas Akhund.
The country’s emergency services, limited for many years in staff and capacity, are not prepared to face major natural disasters.
“The government does the best within its capabilities,” tweeted Anas Haqqani, a Taliban leader.
“We hope that the international community and humanitarian organizations will help people in this terrible situation,” he added.
The earthquake was felt in several provinces in the region, as well as in capital Kabulwhich is 200 km north of the quake’s epicenter.
It was also felt in Pakistan, where one person died and several homes were damaged.
Pakistani Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, said he is “deeply saddened” with the tragedy and said the country’s government is working to support Afghan colleagues.
UN and European Union (EU) promised help.
“Agency assessment teams are already deployed in several affected areas,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Twitter.
“The European Union is monitoring the situation (…) and is ready to coordinate and provide emergency assistance,” tweeted the EU’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Tomas Niklasson.
Pope Francis expressed solidarity with the victims of the earthquake and said he hoped that “with the help of all the suffering of the dear Afghan people can be alleviated”.
Afghanistan frequently experiences earthquakes, particularly in the Hindu Kush region, which lies between Afghanistan and Pakistan, at the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.
Disasters can be devastating due to the low resilience of Afghan rural homes.
In October 2015, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake in the Hindu Kush Mountains left more than 380 people dead in both countries.
The Afghan victims included 12 girls, who in panic tried to flee the school during the quake.
Since the Taliban regained power in August last year, Afghanistan is experiencing a serious financial and humanitarian crisis, caused by the blockade of millions of assets abroad and the suspension of international aid, which supported the country for two decades and which is now trickling in. .