Deadly Earthquakes In Afghanistan
A powerful earthquake has killed one thousand people and left hundreds more injured in Afghanistan
Pictures show landslides and ruined mud-built homes in eastern Paktika province, where rescuers have been scrambling to treat the injured.
Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada said hundreds of houses were destroyed and the death toll was likely to rise.
It is the deadliest earthquake to strike Afghanistan in two decades.
An earlier condolence message by the Taliban’s supreme leader stated that only up to 300 people were killed and more than 500 wounded in the tragedy.
The 6.1-magnitude quake had affected the country’s Paktika and Khost provinces the most.
It was not immediately clear how many houses were destroyed or damaged in the region due to the extent of the crisis.
The authorities in Kabul said military helicopters, as well as ambulances from neighbouring provinces, had been dispatched to the scene to speed up the rescue operation for the victims, who were mostly trapped under rubble.
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But the mountainous and deserted areas made the rescue operations difficult, according to the country’s state minister for disaster management.
“There is a huge horror everywhere. The parents can’t find their children and vice versa, everyone is asking who is alive or dead,’’ Rahim Khan Khushal,
Earthquakes tend to cause significant damage in Afghanistan, where dwellings in many rural areas are unstable or poorly built.
Local farmer Alem Wafa cried and said that official rescue teams were yet to reach the remote village of Gyan – one of the worst hit.
“There are no official aid workers, but people from neighbouring cities and villages came here to rescue people. I arrived this morning, and I – myself – found 40 dead bodies.”
He continued: “Most of them are young, very young children. There is a hospital here. But it can’t deal with this disaster. It doesn’t have the capacity.”
Taliban officials called for aid agencies to rush to the affected areas in the nation’s east.
Decades of conflict have made it difficult for the impoverished country to improve its protections against earthquakes and other natural disasters – despite efforts by aid agencies to reinforce some buildings over the years.
Even before the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan’s emergency services were stretched to deal with natural disasters – with few aircraft and helicopters available to rescuers.
Pope Francis also prayed for the victims.
“I express my closeness to the injured and to those affected by the earthquake,’’ Pope Francis said.
Pope, head of the Catholic Church told the faithful and visitors in St Peter’s Square in Rome at the end of the general audience on Wednesday.