Residents of Winnipegers from Afghanistan are concerned after an earthquake in the eastern region of the country killed at least 1,000 people and destroyed hundreds of homes.
The 6.1-magnitude earthquake hit Paktika and Khost provinces around 1:30 a.m. local time, when most families were sleeping inside their homes. In addition to the dead, at least 1,500 people were injured.
“It’s a very remote area and given the current conditions in Afghanistan, you know, given the humanitarian crisis, I’m concerned, because how will people be treated, how will humanitarian aid get there?” said Ariana Yaftali, co-founder of the Canadian Afghan Women’s Organization.
She added that the infrastructure in the area is in poor condition.
To make matters worse, political instability in the country since the Taliban regained control last year has prompted many international aid organizations to leave.
“The Taliban does not have the ability, ability and willingness to help the people of Afghanistan,” Yaftali said.
She said that many countries, including Canada, no longer have embassies in the country, which means that aid will have to be coordinated through the United Nations. Most international airlines refuse to fly into the country, and humanitarian organizations are reluctant to hand over funds to the Taliban.
Yaftali calls on aid organizations in Canada and the federal government to step up.
“Canada committed initially when the Taliban took over Afghanistan, to bring in 40,000 Afghan refugees. We continue to see that the government is moving very slowly, and the families are still there. So any kind of humanitarian support, including getting them to safety, would be very helpful. gratitude.”
Footage from Paktika province near the Pakistani border showed the victims being flown in by helicopter to be airlifted from the area, according to the Associated Press.
Others were treated on the ground. One resident was seen receiving intravenous fluids while sitting on a plastic chair outside the ruins of his home, with more still on stretchers. Other photos showed residents picking mud bricks and other debris from destroyed stone houses.
A strong earthquake rocked a mountainous rural area in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least 920 people and injuring 600, Afghan authorities said.
Abdul Fareed Ahmed, a former Afghan journalist living in Winnipeg, worries about his friends he knows in the area hit by the devastating earthquake.
He said that the homes in rural areas were not very strong, and he had heard that entire families had been killed.
“All the victims are from the countryside,” he said. “Houses and buildings in rural areas are not as strong as in cities.”
People in Winnipeg speaking to the country’s contacts fear a spike in the death toll.
The Afghan Red Crescent Society has sent 4,000 blankets, 800 tents and 800 kitchen sets to the affected area, according to Abdul Wahid Rayan, general manager of the state-run Bakhtar News Agency.
The Italian Medical Aid Group, which is still operating in Afghanistan, said it had sent seven ambulances and staff to the areas closest to the quake zone.
Currently, the death toll is equal to the 2002 earthquake in northern Afghanistan. They are both the latest and the deadliest since 1998, when a 6.1-magnitude quake and its aftermath in remote northeastern Afghanistan killed at least 4,500 people.
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