Afghanistan quake kills 1,000 people, deadliest in decades

After the Taliban moved across the country in 2021, the US military and its allies withdrew to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul and later withdrew completely.

Many international humanitarian organizations followed suit due to security concerns and the Taliban’s poor human rights record.

Since then, the Taliban have worked with Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to restart airport operations in Kabul and across the country, but nearly all international airlines still avoid entering the country and aid agencies’ reluctance to put money aside in the Taliban treasury can make flying in supplies and equipment difficult.

However, according to Bakhtar’s director-general Abdul Wahid Rayan, the Afghan Red Crescent sent some 4,000 blankets, 800 tents and 800 kitchen packages to the affected area.

The Italian emergency medical organization, which is still active in Afghanistan, said it has sent seven ambulances and personnel to the areas closest to the earthquake zone.

The fear is that the number of victims will increase further, also because many people could become trapped under collapsed buildings, said Stefano Sozza, country director for Emergency in Afghanistan. This latest tragedy cannot but further worsen the state of fragility and economic and social difficulties that Afghanistan has been experiencing for months.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said his country would provide assistance. In the Vatican, Pope Francis has prayed for all the dead and injured and for the suffering of the dear Afghan people.

In some remote areas of Pakistan, there were reports of damage to houses near the Afghan border, but it was not immediately clear whether that was due to rain or the earthquake, said Taimoor Khan, a spokesman for disaster management in the area.

The European seismological agency EMSC said the tremors from the quake were felt over 500 kilometers by 119 million people in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

Mountainous Afghanistan and the greater region of South Asia along the Hindu Kush Mountains have long been vulnerable to devastating earthquakes. (AP)

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