Afghanistan earthquake: Survivors anxiously await help

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India said it has sent a technical team to Kabul to coordinate the delivery of humanitarian aid.< /p>

Aid was slowly arriving in devastated villages in southeastern Afghanistan on Friday, but thousands of survivors remained without shelter, food and water three days after the quake the deadliest the country has seen in more than two decades.

The 5.9-magnitude earthquake that struck this impoverished and isolated border region on Wednesday with Pakistan left more than 1,000 dead, 3,000 injured and thousands homeless.

The fragile houses with mud brick walls did not resist and the survivors found themselves completely destitute. They need shelter to protect themselves from the rain and cold, unusual in this season, but also food, water and first aid products.

“There are no blankets, no tents, no shelters […] Our whole water system is destroyed. There is absolutely nothing to eat.

— Zaitullah Ghurziwal, a resident of Paktika province

Several earthquakes have been felt since Wednesday. Five people were killed Friday morning by one of them in Gayan, according to Maqbool Luqmanzai, the health director of this badly affected district.

Operations relief are complicated by the isolation of the area and the weather. The rains have caused landslides that are slowing the delivery of aid and have damaged telephone and power lines.

Many survivors of Afghanistan's deadliest earthquake in over 20 years remain without food, shelter and water in hard-to-reach villages.

AFP reporters, however, saw seven UN World Food Program (WFP) trucks, loaded with tents and biscuits, arrive Friday morning in the village of Wuchkai, Gayan, after more a day's drive from Kabul.

Others, carrying basic foodstuffs, such as oil or rice, followed, according to a member of the organization. The NGO Médecins sans frontières (MSF) was also present, with two trucks loaded with tents and medicines.

This earthquake represents a major challenge for the Taliban, who took power in mid-August 2021 after 20 years of insurrection and have alienated the international community with their ultra-rigorous conception of Islam.

International aid, which had carried the country at arm's length for two decades, was cut off after their accession to power and is only coming back in dribs and drabs. The country has since been mired in a deep financial and humanitarian crisis.

The government said it was doing its best to help the victims and called for help from the international community.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres assured that the UN was fully mobilized to help Afghanistan.

According to his services, the Office of the High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) distributed tents, blankets and plastic sheeting, WFP delivered food for around 14,000 people in Paktika and the World Health Organization (WHO) provided 10 tons of medical supplies allowing 5400 surgical operations.

The European Union has estimated that 270,000 people living in quake-affected areas will need assistance and has released initial emergency aid of one million euros.

Trucks loaded with tents, tarpaulins, blankets and emergency medicine for people affected by the earthquake in Afghanistan, from Pakistan, are waiting to depart from Islamabad.

Pakistan, Iran and Qatar have also sent disaster relief. And the United States, which withdrew from Afghanistan in late August after 20 years of war, said it was working with humanitarian partners to send medical teams.

Some countries are reluctant to provide aid directly to the Taliban for fear that it will be diverted.

The distribution of aid; The aid will be transparent, however, deputy government spokesman Bilal Karimi assured AFP. Several countries have supported us and have been at our side.

Whole villages were destroyed. Authorities estimate that a total of nearly 10,000 houses, sometimes crammed into 20 people, were damaged.

In Wuchkai, in a cemetery which overlooks the village, 11 rough graves have recently been dug. All contain the bodies of the same family killed in the earthquake, including children.

In the village of Zaitullah, the people, who wander around with weary and resigned faces, have lost everything. We didn't even have a shovel to dig [the graves], no equipment, so we used a tractor, he said.

L' The emergency is great for the most vulnerable: the elderly and children.

The NGO Save the Children estimated on Thursday that more than 118,000 children were affected by the disaster.

“Many children most likely now have no access to clean water, food and somewhere safe to sleep. »

— Save the Children

Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, particularly in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies at the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

The deadliest earthquake in its recent history (5,000 deaths) occurred in May 1998 in the provinces of Takhar and Badakhshan.

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