Afghanistan earthquake survivors 'in dire need of emergency medical supplies'

Authorities in Kabul say more than 2,000 people were injured

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Afghanistan does not have enough medical supplies to treat those injured by an earthquake that killed more than 1,000 people, a senior official said on Friday, as authorities ended the search for survivors in remote south-eastern mountains.

The death toll continued to climb days after the earthquake turned brick and stone homes to rubble. At least 1,150 people were killed, according to the latest figures carried in state media on Friday.

It is not clear how accurately the number of deaths is being estimated, given the difficulty of reaching or communicating with affected villages.

More than 2,000 people were injured and 10,000 houses were partially or completely destroyed in the earthquake, Mohammad Nassim Haqqani, a spokesman for the disaster ministry, told Reuters.

“The health ministry does not have enough drugs, we need medical aid and other necessities because it's a big disaster,” he said.

The 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck early on Wednesday about 160 kilometres south-east of Kabul near the Pakistan border, in a region of arid mountains dotted with small settlements that has often been contested during Afghanistan's decades of war.

Poor communications and a lack of proper roads have hampered relief efforts in a country grappling with a humanitarian crisis that deteriorated sharply after the Taliban seized power last August as US-led international forces withdrew.

The disaster is a major test for the Taliban government, which has been largely shunned by the international community amid worries about human rights and cut off from much direct international assistance because of sanctions.

Aid efforts continue

The UAE, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan all said on Thursday they planned to send aid. Supplies from Pakistan have already crossed the border.

On Friday, the UAE dispatched a plane carrying 30 tonnes of urgent food supplies to the country, the official news agency Wam reported.

“The move is in implementation of the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to operate a relief air bridge for the people affected by the earthquake,” Wam said.

India, which has a strained relationship with the Taliban, said it had sent 27 tonnes of supplies on two flights to be handed over to international aid agencies.

Aid organisations such as the local Red Crescent and the World Food Programme have stepped in to assist the most vulnerable families with food and other emergency items such as tents and sleeping mats in Paktika province, the epicentre of the earthquake, and neighbouring Khost province, AP reported.

Large parts of South Asia are seismically active because a tectonic plate known as the Indian plate is pushing north into the Eurasian plate.

In 2015, an earthquake struck Afghanistan's remote north-east, killing several hundred people in Afghanistan and northern Pakistan.

Updated: June 24, 2022, 10:25 AM
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