Afghanistan earthquake kills 1,000
Published : Wednesday, 22 June, 2022 at 6:12 PM Count : 744
Deadliest earthquake in decades early Wednesday struck a rural, mountainous region of eastern Afghanistan, killing 1,000 people and injuring 1,500 more, according to state-run Bakhtar news agency.
It also said the details were coming in while the officials warned that the already grim toll would likely to rise.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the magnitude of the earthquake in the early hours of Wednesday was 5.9, revising an initial estimate at 6.1. The epicentre of the tremor was about 46km (27 miles) from the city of Khost, near the Pakistani border.
Most of the deaths were in Paktika province, in the districts of Giyan, Nika, Barmal and Zirok, according to the State Ministry for Disaster Management.
The death toll stands at more than 1,000 and at least 1,500 people have been injured "in Gayan and Barmal districts of Paktika province alone," Mohammad Amin Hozaifa, head of Paktika province's information and culture department, told journalists.
Rescuers rushed to the area by helicopter Wednesday, but the response is likely to be complicated since many international aid agencies left Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover.
Afghan journalist Ali M Latifi, reporting from Kabul, said people as far as the Afghan capital, some 200km (124 miles) away, felt the aftershocks.
Authorities are reporting hundreds of houses have been destroyed in the region, which has not seen a lot of development, Latifi said.
“Authorities have sent helicopters and are calling for aid agencies to come in and rescue people from the rubble. But it’s a remote area and harder to reach,” he added.
“The biggest issue is how to reach the sites because they are further away from the provincial capitals, and the road conditions could be difficult. So really the issue is how long it’s going to take them to get there,” the Afghan journalist said.
Najibullah Sadid, an Afghan water resources management expert, said the earthquake had coincided with heavy monsoon rain in the region -- making traditional houses, many made of mud and other natural materials, particularly vulnerable to damage.
"The timing of the earthquake (in the) dark of night ... and the shallow depth of 10 kilometers of its epicenter led to higher casualties," he added.
Neighboring Pakistan’s Meteorological Department said the quake's epicenter was in Afghanistan's Paktika province, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of the city of Khost. Buildings were also damaged in Khost province, and tremors were felt as far away as the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.
Footage from Paktika showed men carrying people in blankets to waiting helicopters. Others were treated on the ground. One resident could be seen receiving IV fluids while sitting in a plastic chair outside the rubble of his home and still more were sprawled on gurneys. Some images showed residents picking through clay bricks and other rubble from destroyed stone houses, some of whose roofs or walls had caved in.
The death toll given by the Bakhtar News Agency was equal to that of a quake in 2002 in northern Afghanistan that struck immediately after the U.S.-led invasion overthrew the Taliban government. Those are the deadliest since 1998, when a 6.1 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tremors in Afghanistan’s remote northeast killed at least 4,500 people.
The Wednesday disaster posed a major test for the Taliban-led government, which seized power last year as the U.S. planned to pull out from the country and end its longest war, two decades after toppling the same insurgents in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.