More than a thousand dead in southeastern Afghanistan by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake | International
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More than a thousand people have died this Wednesday in an earthquake of magnitude 6.1 on the Richter scale in Afghanistan. According to the latest report from the Afghan authorities, at least 1,000 people have died as a result of the earthquake, with its epicenter in the southeast of the Central Asian country. The earth tremor occurred at 1:30 in the morning, local time (two hours less in mainland Spain) about 44 kilometers from the city of Jost, and at a depth of 51 kilometers, according to information collected by the Service United States Geological Survey (USGS).
The Department of Information and Culture of Paktika, the province where the highest number of victims has been registered, has estimated that at least 1,500 people were injured by the earthquake. Zabiullah Mujahid, the spokesman for the Islamic Emirate, in power since August 15, has stated that the emergency cabinet has met to discuss assistance to people affected by the earthquake.
Hours earlier, the Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, had put the death toll at nearly 300, in a message in which he also conveyed his condolences to the victims of the earthquake. The Taliban leader stressed that the authorities “will take all necessary measures to evacuate the martyrs and transport and care for the wounded”, as well as to “provide immediate aid to the affected people”.
“We also ask the international community, charitable organizations and all humanitarian organizations to help the people of Afghanistan to face this great tragedy,” Akhundzada concluded in his statement, published by the Mujahid spokesman. Salahuddin Ayubi, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, has said the death toll could rise as some of the villages are in remote areas in the mountains and it will take some time to collect details.
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Many humanitarian organizations are already working on the ground in coordination with the Taliban authorities to rescue survivors of the catastrophe, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported in a statement.
Most of the victims have been registered in the Afghan province of Paktika, where at least a hundred people have died and another 250 have been injured, according to the head of the Ministry of Natural Disasters, Mohammad Nassim Haqqani. Another 25 people have died in Khost province, near the Pakistani border, and five more in Nangarhar, as rescue efforts continue.
Images shared on social networks show numerous destroyed houses and bodies on cloth or carpets. The Taliban government has already begun rescue efforts by sending aid, helicopters and medical supplies. However, the heavy rains and wind that hit the area did not allow several of the helicopters to land this afternoon.
Pakistani media have reported that a minor earthquake has shaken the capital, Islamabad, and other parts of the country. At least one person has died in this country when the roof of his house collapsed, according to Taimoor Ali, spokesman for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province Disaster Management Authority.
Kabul asks for help
“We ask aid agencies to provide immediate assistance to earthquake victims to prevent a human disaster,” Afghan government spokesman Bilal Karimi said in a tweet. The disaster comes as Afghanistan faces a severe economic crisis, almost a year after the Taliban seized power following the withdrawal of US-led international forces. In response to the Taliban’s takeover, many nations have imposed sanctions on Afghanistan’s banking sector and cut billions of dollars in development aid.
Humanitarian aid has continued, however, with international organizations, such as the United Nations, in operation. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said Afghanistan had asked humanitarian agencies to help with rescue efforts and teams had been sent to the quake-hit area.
Afghanistan has a long history of earthquakes, many in the mountainous areas of the Hindu Kush region, which borders Pakistan. If the death toll is confirmed, this morning’s earthquake would be one of the deadliest in the last two decades. In March 2002, a strong double earthquake, precisely in the Hindu Kush, caused the death of 1,100 people.
In 2015, an earthquake of magnitude 7.7 in the same area caused more than a hundred deaths in Afghanistan and almost 300 deaths in Pakistan, a country in which there were more than 2,000 injuries and more than 36,000 houses were damaged or destroyed.
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