Afghanistan’s earthquake has claimed over 1,000 lives as per the latest reports on Thursday. More than 1,500 people reportedly remain injured, while countless people are still buried in the rubble of demolished buildings.
Although modern concrete buildings withstand 6-magnitude earthquakes, most buildings in Afghanistan are still mud and brick houses that remain vulnerable to even minor tremblors.
To make things worse, heavy rain, scarce resources and rough terrain have turned rescue operations into a challenge. Rescuers from neighbouring countries have also reported weather impediments. Meanwhile, the country is experiencing a critical food and medical supply shortage.
While Afghanistan is prone to earthquakes, mainly due to its geography, according to reports, this may have been one of Afghanistan’s deadliest quakes since 2005.
“We can’t reach the area; networks are too weak,” a Taliban spokesman was quoted by Reuters. With the lack of effective rescue operations, some victims have taken it upon themselves to get out by using their hands to dig the rubble and then carefully walking through the dirt.
At the grassroots, families of the survivors that reside in other places, including India, are seeking global intervention to rescue the survivors. A 48-year-old man from Kolkata has reached out to media as his father, two brothers, and their families are likely stuck in Khost, Afghanistan. Similarly, another person whose son also resides in Khost was reportedly attempted to get in touch with India’s External Affairs Ministry.
“One of my sons lives in Khost with his family. I got in touch with some relatives in Kabul, but they have received no information,” he told IANS. “The international community must rush in to provide help. The Taliban is incapable and only know how to kill, not to rescue,” he added.
According to provincial officials, in the Khost province, at least 25 people were killed, and 100 others were wounded after more than 600 houses, mosques and shops were destroyed.
Hours after the quake, Acting Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund chaired an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning and ordered a grant of 1 billion afghanis (more than $11.2 million) to assist the victims of the natural disaster.
“The meeting has ordered all concerned agencies to rush to the spot immediately. Use all available resources to save the lives of the affected people and provide all necessary assistance,” he tweeted.
However, the senior Taliban official, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, has appealed for funds as the regime is “financially unable to assist the people to the extent that is needed”, the BBC reported.
Owing to the unseasonal downpours and chilly weather, an emergency shelter has been put up on priority, along with providing emergency trauma care, non-food items, food assistance and water and sanitation hygiene support.
On Wednesday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the UN resources in Afghanistan are fully mobilised, and UN teams are already on the ground assessing the needs and providing initial support.
The World Health Organisation and several non-governmental organisations are deploying mobile health teams, medicines and medical equipment to Afghanistan’s Paktika and Khost provinces and mobilising additional medical supplies, Xinhua news agency reported.
Furthermore, the UN Children’s Fund has deployed at least 12 teams of health workers to the worst-hit Giyan and Barmal districts of Paktika and Spera district in Khost. The World Food Programme and its humanitarian partners are conducting a vulnerability assessment mission in the remote areas hit by the earthquake.
The Prime Minister’s Office in Islamabad said in a statement late Wednesday that the relief goods included blankets, tents and medicine, Xinhua news agency. Meanwhile, the Iranian Embassy in Kabul said that Tehran had sent two cargo planes carrying first aid supplies to Afghanistan.
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