At least 1,000 dead in strong earthquake in Afghanistan

At least 1,000 people were killed and 1,500 others injured in a powerful earthquake that struck a remote border region in southeastern Afghanistan overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday, authorities said, fearing the death toll could rise.

“People are digging graves after grave,” Muhammad Amin Hudhaifa, head of media and culture for Paktika province, said in a message to the press.

He said that the death toll in his province, the only one most affected by Khost province, “has reached a thousand dead and this number is increasing.”

He said about 1,500 people were also injured in Paktika, in what is already the deadliest earthquake in Afghanistan in more than two decades.

“It is also raining and all the houses are destroyed. There are no tents or food. People are still trapped under the rubble (…) We need immediate help,” Mr. Hudhaifah described.

The government fears an increase in the balance sheet more than relief operations.

The quake, with a magnitude of 5.9, struck at a depth of 10 kilometers around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, near the border with Pakistan, according to the US Seismological Institute (USGS).

“We have two dead and five injured in our family,” survivor Arup Khan, who escaped from hospital in Sharan, the capital of Paktika state, told AFP.

“When I got up, I was covered in dust. People came and took us out. The situation was terrible (…) There were screams everywhere, the children and my whole family were under the mud,” he added.

Expect international aid

Pictures and videos posted on social media show countless collapsed homes and people digging through the rubble in this poor and hard-to-reach rural area.

Footage released by the Taliban also shows residents digging a long trench of graves to bury the dead.

“A large part of the area is mountainous and travel is difficult. It will take time to transport the dead and wounded,” said Minister of Natural Disasters Mohammad Abbas Akhund.

Afghanistan’s emergency services are limited in number and capacity for a long time, ill-suited to dealing alone with a major natural disaster. It is difficult to mobilize international aid, with NGOs and UN agencies less present than in the past since the Taliban took power in August.

Anas Haqqani, another senior Taliban official, tweeted: “The government is doing its best.” “We hope that the international community and humanitarian organizations will also help people in this terrible situation,” he added.

The quake was felt in several districts of the region, as well as in the capital, Kabul, 200 km north of the epicenter.

Lots of earthquakes

It was also in neighboring Pakistan where one person was killed and several houses were damaged. Islamabad has begun sending aid, including food, tents and blankets.

“Given the heavy rain and cold, which are unusual in this season, emergency shelter is an urgent priority,” said the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Osha said residents also need immediate emergency care, food and non-food assistance, and assistance with water, hygiene and sanitation services.

“The European Union is monitoring the situation (…) and stands ready to coordinate and provide emergency assistance,” tweeted at the beginning of the day its Special Envoy to Afghanistan, Thomas Nicholson.

Afghanistan is frequently subject to earthquakes, particularly in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies at the junction between the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates. These disasters can be particularly devastating due to the poor resilience of Afghan rural homes.

The deadliest earthquake in the modern history of Afghanistan (5,000 dead) occurred in May 1998 in the provinces of Takhar and Badakhshan (northeast).

Since the Taliban came to power in Kabul, Afghanistan has been mired in a serious financial and humanitarian crisis due to the freezing of billions of assets held abroad and the sudden cessation of international aid, with which the country has been at a distance of 20 years. Now back in quirks and caresses.

The earthquake that killed at least 920 people overnight in Afghanistan is one of the deadliest in the country since 1998.

Here is a reminder of the deadliest earthquakes the country has experienced in thirty years.

1991: 1500 dead in Afghanistan and Pakistan

1Verse February 1991 – A 6.9 megawatt earthquake strikes Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan, killing at least 1,500 people, Afghan officials say. The earthquake was felt in northern India and Tajikistan by residents.

1998: Thousands dead

On February 4, 1998, an earthquake killed about 4,500 people and displaced thousands in Takhar Province (northeast).

The most affected areas are the villages of Rostak, Gozar Dara and Ganda Chashma located near the Tajik border. Strength is rated at 5.6 or 6 on the Richter scale.

On May 30, a 6.6 MW earthquake (USGS) shook the northeast of the country again, killing about 5,000 people, injuring 1,500 others and destroying many villages in Rostak and Shah Ab districts (Takhar Province) and Shahr-i-Buzurg (Badakhshan Province).

2002: Hundreds of dead

On March 3, a violent 7.4 MW (USGS) earthquake struck the north of the country, killing between 70 and 150 people, according to sources, in Samangan Province.

On March 25, another earthquake of magnitude 6.1 killed more than 800 people, injured 300, and displaced thousands in Baghlan Province, located at the foot of the Hindu Kush (North) mountain range. The small town of Nahrin (20,000 inhabitants) was completely destroyed.

2012: 75 dead

On June 11, 2012, three earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.2, 5.4 and 5.7 on the Richter scale completely destroyed 114 houses in Baghlan Province (North), killing 75 people, including 71 in the small village of Mala Jan, who were buried under a landslide. .

2015: Nearly 400 killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan

On October 26, 2015, a violent 7.5 megawatt earthquake (USGS) struck the Hindu Kush mountain range, straddling Afghanistan and Pakistan, causing more than 380 deaths in these two countries.



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