(Keep) At least a thousand people were killed in the powerful quake that hit southeastern Afghanistan overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday, according to a senior official in one of the hardest-hit provinces.
Posted at 6:26
Updated at 7:31 am
“The death toll has reached 1,000 dead and that number is rising. People are digging graves one by one,” Paktika Province Information and Culture Department head Mohammad Amin Huzaifa said in a message to the press.
The toll could get worse as many people remain trapped under the rubble of their destroyed homes.
“We call on aid organizations to provide immediate assistance to the victims of the earthquake to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe,” Deputy Government Spokesman Bilal Karimi tweeted.
The magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday at a depth of 10 km, very close to the border with Pakistan, according to the American Seismological Institute (USGS).
A second magnitude 4.5 quake struck at almost the same time in the same location, according to the USGS.
According to Yaqub Manzor, a Paktika tribal leader, many of the injured were from the province’s Giyan district and were taken to hospital by ambulance and helicopter.
“Local markets have closed and people have rushed (to help) to the affected areas,” he told AFP by phone.
Photos posted on social media show collapsed houses on the streets of a village in this poor and inaccessible rural region.
Videos also show residents of the affected areas loading the injured onto a helicopter.
“Much of the region is mountainous and travel is difficult. It will take time to transport the dead and injured,” said Natural Disasters Minister Mohammad Abbas Akhund.
The operational forces in Afghanistan, which have long been limited in number and capacity, are unsuitable for dealing with a major natural disaster.
“The government is doing its best,” tweeted Anas Haqqani, another senior Taliban official. “We hope that the international community and humanitarian organizations will also help people in this terrible situation. »
The earthquake was felt in several provinces in the region and also in the capital Kabul, which is about 200 km north of the epicenter.
One person was also killed and some houses damaged in neighboring Pakistan.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said he was “deeply saddened” by the tragedy, noting that the Pakistani authorities were working to support their Afghan counterparts.
“The European Union is monitoring the situation […] and stands ready to coordinate and provide emergency assistance,” his special envoy for Afghanistan, Tomas Niklasson, also tweeted.
The UN said it had dispatched teams to assess the extent of the damage in several of the affected areas, and Pope Francis expressed his “sympathy” to the Vatican victims.
Afghanistan is frequently struck by earthquakes, particularly in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies at the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.
These disasters can be particularly devastating due to the weak resilience of rural Afghan homes.
In October 2015, a powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck the Hindu Kush mountain range between Afghanistan and Pakistan, killing more than 380 people in those two countries.
Since the Taliban took power in Kabul in August 2021, Afghanistan has been plunged into a severe financial and humanitarian crisis, caused by the freezing of billions of assets abroad and the abrupt halt to international aid that had been supplying the country for 20 years kept at bay for years and which is now coming back in droplet and droplet.
Afghanistan’s deadliest earthquakes
The earthquake that killed at least 920 people in Afghanistan on Tuesday night is one of the deadliest in the country since 1998.
Here’s a reminder of the country’s deadliest earthquakes in thirty years.
1991: 1,500 dead in Afghanistan and Pakistan
1ah February 1991 – A 6.9 MW (USGS) earthquake hits Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 1,500 people, Afghan officials say. The quake is felt in northern India and Tajikistan.
1998: Thousands dead
On February 4, 1998, an earthquake in Takhar province (northeast) killed around 4,500 people and left thousands homeless.
The districts of Rostak, Guzar Darra and Ganda Chashma, villages near the Tajik border, have been hardest hit. The magnitude was estimated at 5.6 or 6 on the Richter scale.
On May 30, a 6.6 Mwb (USGS) earthquake again struck the north-east of the country, killing about 5,000 people, injuring 1,500 and devastating many villages in Rostak and Chah-ab (Takhar Province) and Shahr-i- Bozorg (Badakhshan Province).
2002: Hundreds of dead
On March 3, a powerful earthquake measuring 7.4 mWS (USGS) shook the north of the country, killing 70 to 150 people in Samangan province, according to sources.
On March 25, another 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck Baghlan province in the foothills of the Hindu Kush Mountains (north) leaving more than 800 dead, 300 injured and thousands homeless. The small town of Nahrin (20,000 inhabitants) is totally razed to the ground.
2012: 75 dead
On June 11, 2012, three tremors measuring 5.2, 5.4 and 5.7 on the Richter scale completely destroyed 114 houses in Baghlan province (north) and killed 75, including 71 in the small village of Mullah Jan, the was buried under a landslide.
2015: almost 400 dead in Afghanistan and Pakistan
On October 26, 2015, a powerful 7.5 Mww (USGS) earthquake struck the Hindu Kush mountain range between Afghanistan and Pakistan, killing more than 380 people in the two countries combined.