Deadly earthquake hits Afghanistan claiming more than 1000 lives, officials say

deadly earthquake hits afghanistan claiming more than 1000 lives officials say
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Publié le 23 juin 2022, par Samir | 13 h 11 min
Temps de lecture : 6 minutes

Officials said that a powerful earthquake jolted the southern provinces of Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan on Wednesday, topping 6.1 magnitudes and claiming more than 1000 lives. Helicopter evacuates injured after massive quake left people stranded and homeless. Afghans desperately need foreign aid and struggle to have necessities under strict US sanctions.

Deadly earthquake hits Afghanistan claiming more than 1000 lives, officials say

The UN and humanitarian partners are on the ground to provide emergency support following last morning’s 6.1 magnitude earthquake.

Arup Khan, 22, described the moment the earthquake struck. He said his family was under the mud. « It was a horrible situation. There were cries everywhere. The children and my family were under the mud. »

« The saddest picture I’ve ever seen would be this one which shows the old man has lost everything – family, home, saving…- to the recent earthquake in southern provinces of Afghanistan. He sets in front of his demolished shelter and gazes to an uncertain point, » Zahra Rahimi, ex-journalist at Tolonews, said in a tweet.

Karim Nyazai, who managed to reach his village in the Gyan district, told The Guardian, « The entire village is buried. Those who could manage to get out before everything fell were managing to take the bodies of their loved ones out of the rubble. There were bodies wrapped in blankets everywhere.

« I lost 22 members of my [extended family], including my sister and three of my brothers. More than 70 people in the village died. »

Preliminary Report by OCHA

According to OCHA’s (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) report:

« At 01.30 local time on 22 June, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck the Central Region of Afghanistan, impacting Paktika and Khost provinces. The earthquake – which was recorded at a depth of 10 km – was reportedly felt in neighboring provinces, including Kabul, as well as in Islamabad, Pakistan, and India. Affected districts identified to date include Barmal, Ziruk, Nika, and Giyan in Paktika province and Spera district in Khost Province. Gayan district in Paktika province is reportedly the worst affected, with up to 200 people killed and 100 injured, many of them seriously. The number of people killed or injured has yet to be confirmed. In addition, up to 1,800 homes have reportedly been destroyed and damaged in Gayan, representing 70 percent of the district’s housing stock. In Spera district, Khost province, 25 people have reportedly been killed and 20 injured. »

The quake wrecked most of the country’s crucial infrastructure, which is already going through political and economic instability.

« The initial Flash Update reported by OSHA further described the situation as:

The number of casualties is expected to rise as search and rescue operations are ongoing. The Ministry of Defense has dispatched five helicopters to Paktika province to facilitate medevacs and one medical team to the Gayan district. UNICEF has also deployed 12 teams of health workers to Gayan district and Spera district in Khost province. Humanitarian search and rescue teams, including INSARAG and UNDAC, are on standby to deploy as needed.

Immediate needs include emergency trauma care, shelter, non-food items, food assistance, and WASH support. »

Secunder Kermani, BBC Pakistan and Afghanistan Correspondent, tweeted:

« More terrible and cruel news in Afghanistan, here in Paktika, where the earthquake has left hundreds of families homeless, and some are likely still trapped under rubble – there’s a powerful storm and very heavy rain. »

Ashok Swain, Professor of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University, shared the catastrophic situation in Afghanistan in his tweet:

« More than 1,000 Afghans are already dead, and the number is expected to go up due to today morning earthquake in Afghanistan. No support, No Message, the world has gone to a silent mode. »

Preliminary reports suggested that the earthquake’s epicenter was 21KM South West of Khost, near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The USGS said that the recent earthquake in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region felt from Kabul to Islamabad was recorded as having a magnitude of 6.1 on the Richter scale, with 44KMs South West of Khost in Afghanistan being its epicenter while the depth was 50.8KMs.

Eight countries responded to aid

Anas Mallick, Journalist reporting on Pakistan Diplomacy, Afghanistan-Pakistan, Militancy & Conflict, shared in one of his latest tweets:
« Pakistan is among the first few countries to have responded in practicality to send aid to the earthquake that hit #Afghanistan. Taliban Spox has confirmed that eight countries have responded with aid; others include Iran and Qatar. »

Pakistan Bureau Chief at WIONews further shared an update that Pakistan will take in earthquake affectees, including patients from Khost and Paktika. Those patients will receive treatment at North Waziristan hospital. Neighboring Pakistan will also send five more aid trucks to Afghanistan. Initially, Pakistan sent immediate relief aid to the earthquake victims; those included tents, blankets, emergency medicines, and tarpaulins.

Stefani, Country Director of EMERGENCY NGO, shared an update after the deadly quake in Afghanistan, « EMERGENCY is close, as always, to the Afghan population. We are ready to provide health support in these difficult times. »

The extreme toll from the earthquake marks it as one of the deadliest the nation has witnessed in decades. It is also the first significant natural disaster since the Taliban took control in Kabul last summer after the US forces withdrew.

Maulawi Sharafuddin Muslim, the acting deputy minister of Afghanistan’s disaster management authority, said that some villages had been destroyed.

Abdul Qahar Balkhi, a senior Taliban official, said that the government « appreciated and welcomed » humanitarian support offered by other countries and relief agencies like Médecins Sans Frontières and the Red Cross.

« Since the terrible news broke of the earthquake, MSF teams in #Khost and #Kabul have been liaising with the authorities and other organizations about our possible support. We know many of the healthcare facilities are under-resourced, and a natural disaster such as this will push the ones in the affected area to their limit, » MSF Afghanistan posted in a tweet.

This disaster hit the country when 20 million people went through a hunger crisis, as a UN report suggested in May. Moreover, the Taliban’s power show in August 2021 turned out to be a significant factor as almost $7 billion of the foreign reserves are frozen, and the country is facing international sanctions.

Humanitarian aid appeal for Afghanistan

These circumstances have paralyzed Afghanistan’s economy, which relies on foreign aid. After the US military forces exited, the uncertain situation in Afghanistan caused an economic downfall. The World Bank predicted in April that the freefall of incomes and price hikes severely impacted average households’ cost of living.

Despite the severity of the quake toll, a declining economy, and drought, the humanitarian aid appeals for Afghanistan could not gather significant international attention. The current crisis will add more damage to Afghanistan’s misery as the aid agencies’ operations have also slowed down due to international sanctions.

Heartbreaking visuals of mass graves dug for yesterday’s earthquake in Afghanistan victims could be seen on social media, which has taken the lives of more than 1,000 people.

Robert Sanders, a seismologist at the US Geological Survey, said that an earthquake of such magnitude usually doesn’t wrench such intense havoc in most parts of the world.

« Because of the mountainous area, there are rockslides and landslides that we won’t know about until later reporting. Older buildings are likely to crumble and fail, » Robert added.

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