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Rescue efforts continue in Afghanistan after devastating earthquake

Rescuers are trying to reach the areas most affected by the powerful earthquake that occurred early Wednesday in southeastern Afghanistan that left at least 1,030 dead and thousands homeless. The UN estimates a “minimum” of 15 million dollars to assist the victims for three months and the Taliban are clamoring for more help.

Search efforts continue to find survivors and recover the bodies of victims after the 6.1 earthquake on the Richter scale that shook Afghanistan on Wednesday, June 22. Lifeguards do so amid harsh weather conditions, lack of resources, and in the midst of mountainous terrain.

Hospitals in the provinces of Paktika and Khost, the most affected by the disaster, as well as neighboring towns and Pakistan, are working around the clock to care for the hundreds of people injured in the tragedy.

The number of fatalities exceeds 1,030 and there are more than 1,500 injured in the worst natural disaster in this country in decades in a rural, impoverished and difficult to access region.

Humanitarian aid continues to reach the hardest hit areas

A convoy left this Thursday, June 23, from Kabul to the affected regions to immediately support “4,000 people with shelter, tents, blankets and other relief items to protect them from bad weather and meet their immediate rescue needs,” said the representative. of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Afghanistan, Leonard Zulu on his Twitter account.


“The number of victims is expected to rise as rescue teams reach the worst affected villages where people remain trapped in the rubble,” the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

For his part, in a statement the secretary general of the Afghan Red Crescent, Mohammad Nabi Burhan, pointed out that “this latest earthquake is another horrible tragedy for Afghanistan, as if it were not enough. It occurred in a somber context in which more than 50% of our people urgently need humanitarian assistance.

On its Twitter account, the agency announced that it continues to provide food and non-food items to the Paktika and Khost areas and that the aid sent by the Afghan Red Crescent Society to the region has already arrived.


Other organizations helping in the area is Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which continues to operate in Afghanistan despite the return of the Taliban regime last year and sent a team to Paktika province to assess the situation after the earthquake. In their social networks they report that another team will follow shortly.


Sarah Chateau, MSF’s program director for Afghanistan, said the agency responded quickly and the challenge now is to reach the area where the earthquake struck.

“It’s a very rural and mountainous area,” he explained.

“The weather conditions were also very bad yesterday (Wednesday), it was raining heavily, the helicopters managed to fly over some areas, but not everywhere. In some areas, they couldn’t even take off. So one of the priorities will be to fly over the area to have a real picture of the magnitude of the current situation,” said the MSF director for Afghanistan.

An Afghan man sits by the rubble of his house in the village of Gayan, in Paktika province on Thursday, June 23, 2022.
An Afghan man sits by the rubble of his house in the village of Gayan, in Paktika province on Thursday, June 23, 2022. © Ebrahim Nooroozi / AP

The World Food Program (WFP) also confirmed that it has a food reserve to serve 14,000 people in Paktika and the World Health Organization (WHO) sent ten tons of medical supplies for 5,400 surgeries and medical treatments.

The UN estimates that they need a “minimum” of 15 million dollars to assist the victims of the six most affected districts for three months. For the time being, the European Union and Korea have pledged $2 million in aid.

The Taliban ask for help and appreciate the received

The Taliban, not recognized internationally, have expressed their gratitude to humanitarian organizations and governments for the help received a day after the tragedy, but insist that they also need sufficient funds to assist in the long term.

In a move described as strange, the Taliban’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzadah, who rarely appears in public, pleaded with the international community and humanitarian organizations “to help the Afghan people affected by this great tragedy and spare no effort.” .

With limited resources, the Taliban already had problems to attend to the basic needs of the country -immersed in a humanitarian crisis-, after the Islamists came to power almost a year ago, and to face, in a timely manner, large-scale emergencies such as this earthquake. In addition to this, the Asian nation also suffers from severe drought, floods and extreme economic difficulties.

Human losses in the catastrophe

Paktika villagers rush to bury the dead on Thursday June 23, digging by hand through the rubble of their homes for survivors, while another group tries to organize the dead in line with tradition. muslim.

In a courtyard, bodies lay wrapped in plastic to protect them from rains that hampered relief efforts for the living.

Bodies of Afghan men wrapped in shrouds before funeral rituals, who died in an earthquake in Gayan district, Paktika province, on June 22, 2022.
Bodies of Afghan men wrapped in shrouds before funeral rituals, who died in an earthquake in Gayan district, Paktika province, on June 22, 2022. © AFP

The EFE agency interviewed a survivor who lost 13 members of his family. It is about Sawar Khan who relates that he lost his mother, his sisters and four of his children. “My wife and daughter are hospitalized in another room,” he says while receiving care at a hospital in Urgon district, in the Afghan province of Paktika.

“I was only able to rescue two of my children and my wife because there was too much dust and debris on the ground,” Khan said with injuries to his right leg and head.

The telluric movement surprised the inhabitants while they were sleeping, which is why there was no time to leave their houses; poorly built stone and mud houses in an area historically vulnerable to devastating earthquakes, especially in the area known as the Hindu Kush, a mountain range in Asia, located between Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan.

An Afghan youth is treated inside a hospital in Sharan city after he was injured following the earthquake in Gayan district, Paktika province, on June 22, 2022.
An Afghan youth is treated inside a hospital in Sharan city after he was injured following the earthquake in Gayan district, Paktika province, on June 22, 2022. © Ahmad Sahel Arman / AFP

In Gayan district, another affected district, many survivors spent the night outdoors in the cold, while children in groups cried inconsolably.

This disaster presented a new test for Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers and relief agencies already struggling with the country’s multiple humanitarian crises.

The earthquake has been the deadliest in Afghanistan in the last two decades and adds more misery to a country where millions face hunger and poverty with a crumbling health system since the Taliban retook power almost 10 months ago that led to the withdrawal of The US and NATO have already cut off vital international financing for the country that was present for 20 years.

With AP and EFE



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Written by Editor TLN

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