Villagers rushed to bury the dead and dug by hand through the rubble of their homes in search of survivors of a powerful earthquake in eastern Afghanistan.
Afghanistan’s Taliban appealed for international aid Thursday as the war-ravaged country struggles to deal with the aftermath of a powerful earthquake that killed at least 1,000 people, injured many more and destroyed nearly 2,000 households.
The 6.1 magnitude quake struck eastern and southeastern Afghan provinces, bordering Pakistan, during the early hours of Wednesday. Officials said the calamity had buried entire families, including women and children, under the rubble across districts in the worst-hit provinces, Paktika and Khost.
On Thursday, authorities and aid workers struggled to reach the disaster zone, citing lack of communications and proper road networks in some of the poorest and most remote areas in Afghanistan. The most affected areas lack infrastructure to withstand calamities like this week’s earthquake, the deadliest in two decades.
Heavy rains and mudslides also hampered rescue efforts, forcing displaced families to spend the night without any shelter. Provincial health director Hematullah Esmat told local media that at least 3,000 families needed urgent humanitarian aid in Paktika alone.
Abdul Qahar Balkhi, a Taliban foreign ministry spokesman in Kabul, said that victims were urgently in need of food, drinking water, medicine, mobile medical teams, warm clothing and shelter.
“But even more crucial for [the] U.S. to end callous attitude towards lives of Afghans by lifting sanctions and unfreezing Afghan assets so people can rebuild their lives destroyed by two-decade occupation and this latest natural disaster,” Balkhi told VOA.
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