Afghanistan: a powerful earthquake leaves at least 920 dead and 600 injured

The magnitude 5.9 earthquake occurred in a remote area in the east of the country, near the border with Pakistanwhere the population already lives in very precarious conditions.

“The balance reached 1,000 dead and this figure is increasing. There are 1,500 injured. People dig grave after grave,” said the head of the Information and Culture Service of Paktika province, Mohamad Amin Huzaifa, in a message to the press. . “Many families are missing”he added.

The balance of the tragedy was mounting rapidly and the supreme leader of Afghanistan, Hibatullah Akhundzada, warned that the figures could be even higher.

The earthquake occurred at a depth of 10 km, around 01:30 on Wednesday, in an area of ​​difficult access in the east of the country, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), which added that a second tremor of magnitude 4, 5 hit almost the same place at the same time.

We ask aid agencies to provide immediate assistance to the victims of the earthquake to avoid a humanitarian disaster“, the deputy government spokesman, Bilal Karimi, urged on Twitter.

According to Yaqub Manzor, a Paktika tribal official, many of the wounded came from the district of Giyanin the province, and were transported in ambulances and helicopters.

Afghanistan earthquake

Photo: DPA

“Much of the region is mountainous and getting around is difficult. It will take time to transport the dead and the wounded“, explained the Minister of Natural Disasters, Mohamad Abas Akhund.

Afghanistan’s rescue services, long limited in numbers and capacity, are ill-adapted to deal with natural disasters of this magnitude.

The earthquake was felt in several provinces of the region, and also in the capital, Kabullocated about 200 km north of the epicenter of the earthquake.

It was also noted in neighboring Pakistan, where one person was killed and several homes were damaged.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said he was “deeply saddened” by this tragedy and assured that the country’s authorities were working to provide their support to their Afghan counterparts.

The UN and the European Union (EU) quickly showed their mobilization.

“Agency assessment teams are already deployed to several affected areas,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in an Afghan-language tweet.

The EU’s envoy for Afghanistan, Tomas Niklasson, said the bloc “follows the situation and is ready to coordinate and provide emergency aid.”

Pope Francis expressed his solidarity with the victims of the earthquake and said he hoped that “with everyone’s help, the suffering of the beloved Afghan people can be alleviated.”

Afghanistan frequently suffers from earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush massif, straddling Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is located at the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

These catastrophes can be especially devastating due to the poor resistance of Afghan rural houses.

In October 2015, a powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake shook the Hindu Kush mountains, causing a total of more than 380 deaths in the two countries.

Since the Taliban came to power in August, Afghanistan has been going through a serious financial and humanitarian crisis, caused by the blockade of millions of assets abroad and the suspension of international aid, which had sustained the country for two decades and which now It arrives with dropper.

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