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Afghanistan calls for help for earthquake survivors as aftershock kills five

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KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan lacks medical supplies to treat the wounded in the earthquake that killed more than 1,000 people this week, a senior official said, with an aftershock on Friday killing five more.

Authorities earlier ended the search in the remote southeastern mountains for survivors of the 6.1-magnitude earthquake early Wednesday near the Pakistan border, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Kabul, the capital.

Friday’s aftershock, at about the same location, measured 4.3 on the Richter scale, the US Geological Survey said. A Health Ministry official said the attack killed five people, but there was no immediate information on the extent of the damage and new injuries.

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A total of 1,036 people have been confirmed killed, the United Nations said on Friday.

About 2,000 people were injured and 10,000 homes were partially or completely destroyed in Wednesday’s earthquake, Mohammad Naseem Haqqani, spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Disasters, told Reuters.

“The Ministry of Health does not have enough medicines,” he said. “We need medical help and other necessities because it’s a huge disaster.”

The epicenter was in a barren mountainous region dotted with small settlements that were often the scene of clashes during the decades of war in Afghanistan.

Poor communications and only basic roads have hampered relief efforts in a country suffering from a humanitarian crisis that deteriorated sharply after the Taliban seized power last August with the withdrawal of US-led international forces.

Taliban test

The disaster is a major test for hardline Islamist rulers who have been largely isolated, ostracized by many over human rights concerns and cut off from much direct international aid because of the sanctions.

Bibi Hawa and her daughter Safia from the earthquake-hit Barmal district, receive treatment in a hospital ward in Sharana, Afghanistan, June 24, 2022. Bibi Hawa claims that she lost 18 members of her family in the recent earthquake. Photograph: Ali Khara/Reuters

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Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates said on Thursday they planned to send aid. Supplies from Pakistan have already crossed the border.

India, which has strained relations with the Taliban, said it has sent 27 tons of supplies in two flights that will be delivered to international aid agencies.

She added that UNHCR has dispatched tons of supplies and expert staff to support relief efforts.

“Four decades of conflict and instability in Afghanistan have left millions on the brink of starvation and starvation,” spokeswoman Shabia Mantou said on Friday.

Another UN body, the World Health Organization, has also warned that the disaster could increase the risk of cholera spreading across Afghanistan.

About 500,000 people were already suffering from diarrheal disease in May, one of the main symptoms of cholera, said Dr Daping Lu, WHO representative in Afghanistan.

Speaking before the aftershocks on Friday, Haqqani said the search for survivors was called off about 48 hours after the quake.

“The search process is over,” he said, but did not explain why. Elsewhere, people have been pulled alive from earthquake rubble after much longer periods.

Large parts of South Asia are seismically active because the tectonic plate known as the Indian plate pushes north into the Eurasian plate.

In 2015, an earthquake struck remote northeastern Afghanistan, killing several hundred people in Afghanistan and neighboring northern Pakistan.

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(Reporting by Muhammad Yunus Yawar) from Kabul. Additional reporting by Emma Farge in Geneva. Written by Alasdair Pal. Editing by Robert Percell, Clarence Fernandez and Bill Bercrout

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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