An earthquake survivor has told of the loss of 26 members of his family as rescuers resort to digging by hand in flattened villages in eastern Afghanistan.
It comes amid confusion over an official request for help. While the Taliban government says it has requested international assistance, the US says it has not received any official communication.
The European Union was quick to provide assistance, earmarking 1 million euros for humanitarian funding, and warned that “an estimated 270,000 people living in the affected areas will need emergency assistance”.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences on Twitter and offered humanitarian aid. Other countries, including Pakistan, South Korea and Japan, also pledged support.
The rescue efforts of the country’s hardline Islamist leadership are facing a major test after being cut off from much international aid since seizing power last summer. There have already been poor responses to calls for help despite the drought and the collapse of the economy.
At least 1,000 people were killed and more than 1,500 injured after a 6.1-magnitude earthquake on Wednesday rattled a rural and mountainous area, flattening stone and brick homes.
The majority of the deaths occurred in Paktika province, where extensive damage was caused to buildings near the epicenter of the 6.1-magnitude earthquake in Jayan region.
Image: A Taliban helicopter takes off after providing aid to Jayan in Paktika province Image: Afghans dig a trench to bury their relatives in Paktika district
As rescue teams and villagers resumed searching for survivors by digging up the rubble with their own hands on Thursday, “People are digging grave after grave,” said Muhammad Amin Hudhaifa, head of the Information and Culture Department in Paktika.
A man receiving treatment at Paktika Regional Hospital said he had lost dozens of relatives, including his children.
“I was at my house and the earthquake happened at 1.30 am local time. Everything fell on us and I didn’t know at the time what was happening,” Gulak said.
“I lost 26 members of my family, including cousins and relatives…even my children were killed.”
Amir Gul said he lost seven members of his family and six others were injured.
“It was a strong earthquake… All the houses were destroyed and destroyed. Paktika province is a big province but there is no food, no tents or other facilities here,” he added.
“People are in an open sky now. We are asking for help… A lot of people have been injured,” he added.
The disaster comes amid an economic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan since the takeover of the Taliban in August 2021 and the withdrawal of US-led international forces after two decades of war.
Its already fragile and aid-heavy economy has been crippled by Western sanctions on its banking sector and aid cuts.
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