At least 920 people have been killed in a powerful earthquake that struck southeastern Afghanistan overnight on Tuesday, June 22. The previous report put the death toll at 300.
“Many houses are damaged and people are trapped inside.”Deputy Government Spokesman Bilal Karimi told Agencies France-Presse (AFP). “We call on aid agencies to provide immediate relief to earthquake victims to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.”He tweeted earlier.
Mohammed Naseem Haqqani, head of the Taliban’s National Disaster Management Administration, told Reuters that most of the deaths were reported in the Pakistani province of Bakhtika, which borders Pakistan.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake, measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale, struck at 1am on Wednesday morning at a depth of 10km (9:30 am in Paris). A magnitude 4.5 earthquake shook the region at the same time, according to the USGS.
According to Jacob Mansour, a tribal leader from Bactica, many of the injured came from the Qian district in the province and were taken to hospital by ambulances and helicopters. “Local markets are closed and people are rushing [pour aider] Affected Areas “He told AFP by phone.
Dilapidated houses, inadequate rescue services
Photos posted on social networks show dilapidated houses on the streets of a village, in this impoverished and inaccessible rural area. The videos also show residents in the affected areas loading the injured into a helicopter. Emergency services in Afghanistan, which have long been limited in number and capacity, are incapable of dealing with a major natural disaster alone.
The epicenter was reported below the Pacific Ocean floor, however; no tsunami alert was issued. It was also in neighboring Pakistan, but no damage or casualties were immediately reported there. Pakistani Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif said “Deep regret” He said that through this tragedy the Pakistani authorities were acting in support of their Afghan counterparts.
“The EU is monitoring the situation (…)And is ready to coordinate and provide emergency assistance., His special envoy to Afghanistan Thomas Nicholson tweeted. The United Nations has also announced that it is examining aid needs.
“In recent hours, an earthquake has caused casualties and extensive damage in Afghanistan.”The pope said in Italian at the end of his weekly public visit to St. Peter’s Square. “I offer my condolences to the victims of the earthquake. And I especially pray for those who lost their lives and their families.Pope Francis added. “With the help of all, I hope the suffering of the people of Afghanistan will be alleviated.”Francis added in the presence of thousands of worshipers.
Frequent earthquakes occur in Afghanistan, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, where the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates meet. These disasters are particularly devastating due to the weak backlog of rural Afghanistan housing.
Since the Taliban came to power in Kabul in August, Afghanistan has been mired in a severe financial and humanitarian crisis caused by the freezing of billions of assets abroad and the abrupt cessation of international aid. For twenty years, it has now been coming back in drops and sluggishness.
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