ZURMAT – A powerful earthquake in remote border region of Afghanistan overnight killed at least 1,000 people and injured more than hundreds, officials said on Wednesday. The quake struck shortly after 01:30 (21:00 GMT Tuesday) as people slept.
The 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck hardest in the rugged east, where people already lead hardscrabble lives in a country in the grip of a humanitarian disaster made worse by the Taliban takeover in August.
“People are digging grave after grave,” said Mohammad Amin Huzaifa, head of the Information and Culture Department in hard-hit Paktika, adding that at least 1,000 people had died in that province alone.
“It is raining also, and all houses are destroyed. People are still trapped under the rubble,” he told journalists.
The death toll climbed steadily all day as news of casualties filtered in from hard-to-reach areas in the mountains, and the country’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, warned it would likely rise further.
In Afghanistan, the death toll has risen to one thousand after a strong earthquake measuring six point one on Richter Scale hit remote border region of the country overnight.
According to the officials, hundreds of people have been injured and the death toll is expected to rise as rescuers dig through collapsed dwellings. Helicopters were deployed in the rescue effort to reach the injured and fly in medical supplies and food.
Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada said hundreds of houses were destroyed, and the death toll is likely to rise.
| PM, CJCSC, Services
Chiefs express grief over loss of precious lives | Armed Forces of Pakistan ready to provide humanitarian assistance
to Afghans: DG ISPR
The Taliban appealed for international help for the rescue effort as pictures showed landslides and ruined mud-built homes in the province of Paktika.
It was the deadliest earthquake to strike Afghanistan in two decades and a major challenge for the Taliban, the Islamist movement which regained power last year after the Western-backed government collapsed.
The earthquake struck about 44km from the city of Khost and tremors were felt as far away as Pakistan and India. Witnesses reported feeling the quake in both Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, and Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad.
‘PM Shehbaz expresses grief’
Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives due to the earthquake in Afghanistan. In a statement, the Prime Minister said Pakistan stands with Afghan brothers and sisters in this difficult time. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that Pakistan will provide all possible assistance to the people of Afghanistan. Shehbaz Sharif tweeted, “Deeply grieved to learn about earthquake in Afghanistan, resulting in loss of innocent lives. People in Pakistan share the grief & sorrow of their Afghan brethren. Relevant authorities working to support Afghanistan in this time of need.”
Shehbaz Sharif directed the authorities concerned to assist the affected people in Afghanistan.
‘CJCSC, Services Chiefs express condolences over loss of lives’
In a statement, Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar said Wednesday that Armed Forces of Pakistan are ready to provide all possible humanitarian assistance to people of Afghanistan. “CJCSC & Services Chiefs express deepest condolences over tragic loss of precious lives & damage to infrastructure due to earthquake & torrential floods in various areas of Afghanistan. AFs of Pakistan are ready to provide all possible humanitarian assistance to people of Afg.” tweets the DG ISPR.
According to the spokesperson of Foreign Office Asim Iftikhar Ahmad, the people of Pakistan stand in strong solidarity with their Afghan brethren in this difficult time.
The spokesperson said we have no doubt that the brotherly Afghan people will overcome the effects of this natural calamity with their characteristic resilience.
He said Pakistani authorities and institutions are working to extend required assistance to Afghanistan in coordination with their relevant institutions.
Trucks loaded with relief goods for earthquake victims of Afghanistan will leave for Khost on Wednesday night. According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Disaster Management Authority and other relevant authorities are co-operating in the delivery of relief goods and handing over to Afghan authorities.
The relief supplies are being sent to Afghanistan on special instructions of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, which include tents, tarpaulins, blankets and medicines.