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Earthquake in Afghanistan: “We only have five beds, but 500 patients came to our clinic”

The clinic had only five beds, but Tuesday's earthquake rendered even these meager resources unusable.  (GYAN COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CENTER).

“Of 500 patients who came to the clinic since morning, 200 died.”

That is the telling balance of Muhammad Gul, a staff member of a small clinic in Gyan, in the east of Afghanistan.

LOOK: “The earthquake in Afghanistan could not have happened at a worse time”

The facility has only five beds, but Tuesday’s earthquake rendered even these meager resources unusable.

“All the rooms in the clinic have been destroyed,” he told the BBC.

Gul recounted that a helicopter had transported a handful of patients from a remote district in the province of Paktika to various cities for treatment, and two doctors they were running a makeshift open-air clinic to treat people with nowhere to go.

But the electricity generator is in short supply of fuel and aid promised by other provinces has yet to materialize.

Meanwhile, the victims keep coming.

“There are dozens of people who need immediate medical help. I don’t think they’ll survive the nightGull stated.

The clinic had only five beds, but Tuesday’s earthquake rendered even these meager resources unusable. (GYAN COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CENTER).

The magnitude 6.1 earthquake is the deadliest in Afghanistan in two decades.

The earthquake occurred in the east of the country in the early hours of Tuesday.

At least 1,000 people died and more than 1,500 were injured.said a ruling Taliban official.

But the numbers are expected to rise. Heavy rains and rough terrain continue to hamper rescue operations.

The earthquake hit impoverished mountainous areas with precarious buildings ill-equipped to deal with the impact. Hundreds of houses are destroyed and there have also been landslides.

In Gyan, one of the most affected areas, people remain trapped under the rubble of collapsed houses.

International development agencies set up a clinic there a couple of years ago. The goal was to treat minor health problems there and refer patients to hospitals in major cities for more important treatment. The clinic did not have an emergency service.

The clinic had been built to treat only minor health problems.  (GYAN COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CENTER).
The clinic had been built to treat only minor health problems. (GYAN COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CENTER).

Since the Taliban seized power across the country last August, international aid agencies have left the country. And the health system faces severe shortages of supplies and staff..

The Taliban Defense Ministry is leading rescue efforts after the earthquake and the group has asked the international community for help.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said it is sending medical teams and supplies to the affected regions, and aid agencies in neighboring Pakistan are also helping.

However, most foreign governments cut ties with Afghanistan after the Taliban toppled the Western-backed government.

Many countries imposed sanctions on the Afghan banking sector and there is a serious economic crisis.

“Unfortunately the government is under sanctions, so it is financially unable to help people to the extent necessary,” said Abdul Qahar Balkhi, a senior Taliban official.

“International aid agencies are collaborating, and neighboring countries, from the region and from around the world have offered their help, which we appreciate and appreciate.”

“Assistance must be greatly increased, because this is a devastating earthquake,” the official added.

There is a severe shortage of painkillers and antibiotics throughout the region. (GYAN COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CENTER).

When the acting local governor of the Taliban visited Gyan on Tuesday, the people received him with anger and yelled at him to go awaya volunteer from a neighboring district told the BBC.

The volunteer, who came to help with the rescue effort, said the governor and Taliban officials in the capital, Kabul, had promised to send more aid and resources.

The Taliban are not capable of dealing with this disaster. There is no system in place“said the volunteer.

“And we can’t expect international help. The world has forgotten about Afghanistan.”

Even before the Taliban took power, emergency services in the largest cities had limited capacity to respond to natural disasters.

There are few planes and helicopters available.

According to Paktika medical authorities, there is a severe shortage of painkillers and antibiotics in the region.

The Taliban government asked the international community for help. (GYAN COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CENTER).

One of the doctors from the makeshift clinic in Gyan came from the neighboring district of Ghazni to offer his support.

When he arrived, people surrounded him, begging for help.

The doctor said there was a young father with a broken chest.

“She was crying and asking about the other members of her family, including her children.”

“He asked me if they weren’t alive, to let him die.”

The doctor said that most patients were men, as women and children were less likely to be able to extricate themselves from debris in destroyed buildings.

Some children were at the clinic without their parents, including a seriously injured eight-year-old boy, he said.

“He was begging people to go help his parents and siblings who were trapped in his house.”

“Then he heard someone tell me they were all dead, he started crying and fell unconscious.”

The BBC has seen photos of people with open wounds waiting to be treated at the clinic.

Bodies were reported to lie on the ground in Gyan.

There are no official aid workers present, but people from nearby areas are arriving to help rescue efforts.

The 6.1-magnitude earthquake is the deadliest to hit Afghanistan in two decades. (GETTY IMAGES).

A volunteer from the nearby town of Urgun was helping to pull out people trapped in the rubble.

The volunteer noted that he had found 40 bodies since the morning and that most were young children.

But even for those who made it out of the devastation alive, the immediate future looks bleak.

We don’t even have clean water to wash the wounds and it’s very hot,” said the volunteer doctor.

“I think infections will spread soon.”

Some interviewees asked that their names not be published.

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