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M6.1 EARTHQUAKE HITS AFGHANISTAN’S PAKTIKA PROVINCE, OVER 1000 DIED

The death toll has surpassed 1,000 after a magnitude-6.1 earthquake struck Afghanistan’s Paktika Province early on Wednesday, officials said Wednesday, with the toll expected to rise as desperate rescuers dig through collapsed buildings.

The casualties mostly occurred in four districts of the worst-hit Paktika Province. The quake damaged hundreds of houses in the region and also caused landslides, according to local sources.

Injured people are rushed to a rescue helicopter in Gayan district, Paktika Province, Afghanistan, June 22, 2022. /CFP

The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday extended condolences over the lives lost and the people injured in the earthquake in Afghanistan and said China is willing to provide needed emergency humanitarian aid.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his sadness by the tragic loss of life in the earthquake that struck Afghanistan earlier in the day.

“My heart goes out to the people of Afghanistan who are already reeling from the impact of years of conflict, economic hardship and hunger. I convey my deep condolences to the families of the victims and wish a speedy recovery to the injured,” he said on Wednesday.

The earthquake struck eastern Afghanistan early Wednesday and has killed over 1,000 people, with more than 1,500 others injured.

Destroyed houses by an earthquake in the province of Paktika, June 22, 2022. /CFP

Guterres said the United Nations in Afghanistan is fully mobilized, and several UN teams are already on the ground assessing the needs and providing initial support.

“We count on the international community to help support the hundreds of families hit by this latest disaster. Now is the time for solidarity,” Guterres said.

Guterres’ deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said later on Wednesday that the World Health Organization and several nongovernmental organizations are deploying mobile health teams, medicines and medical equipment to Afghanistan’s Paktika and Khost provinces and mobilizing additional medical supplies.

The UN Children’s Fund has deployed at least 12 teams of health workers to the worst-hit district of Giyan in Paktika, and several mobile health and nutrition teams to Barmal district of Paktika, and Spera district in Khost. The World Food Programme, along with its humanitarian partners, is conducting a vulnerability assessment mission in the remote areas hit by the earthquake.

UN humanitarians said the Taliban are responding, including with search-and-rescue efforts. But heavy rain and wind are hampering efforts with helicopters reportedly unable to land on Wednesday afternoon, according to Haq.

Those whose homes have been damaged or destroyed are seeking shelter with family and friends, with some reportedly living in the open. The Taliban have delivered food and emergency tents to some of these families. But more assistance is required, he said.

Given the unseasonable heavy rains and cold, emergency shelter is an immediate priority. Other immediate needs include emergency trauma care, non-food items, food assistance and water and sanitation hygiene support, said Haq.

The death toll has surpassed 1,000 after a magnitude-6.1 earthquake struck Afghanistan’s Paktika Province early on Wednesday, according to a local official.

More than 1,500 people were injured in the Gyan and Barmal districts of the province, Mohammad Amin Huzaifa, head of the Information and Culture Department in Paktika, told reporters.

The number of casualties may increase, he said.

Published By Odoh Dominic Chukwuemeka

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