July 2, 2022

Afghanistan earthquake kills at least 920; The number is expected to rise

Kabul, June 22 (Reuters) – A magnitude 6.1 earthquake shook Afghanistan on Wednesday morning, killing at least 920 people, officials said. More than 600 were injured.

Photos in the Afghan media showed houses crumbling to the ground and bodies lying in blankets lying on the ground.

Home Ministry spokesman Salahuddin Ayoubi said the helicopters had been deployed to rescue the injured and were flown in medical supplies and food.

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“The death toll is likely to rise as some villages are located in remote areas in the mountains and it will take some time to gather details.”

Wednesday’s quake was the worst since 2002. The US Geological Survey (USGC) said it struck near the Pakistan border, about 44 km (27 miles) from the southeastern city of Coast.

Most of the confirmed deaths were in the eastern province of Bhaktika, where 255 people were killed and more than 200 injured, Ayubi added. In the Coast Province, 25 people died and 90 were taken to hospital.

The leader of the ruling Taliban party, Haibatullah Akundzadah, expressed his condolences in a statement.

Carrying out a rescue operation could prove a major test for the Taliban, which seized the country in August, and was cut off from international aid due to sanctions.

About 119 million people in Pakistan, Afghanistan and India felt the quake, the EMSC said on Twitter, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties in Pakistan.

The EMSC put the quake’s magnitude at 6.1, but the USGC put it at 5.9.

Challenging the Afghan authorities, the disaster agency said recent floods in several regions had killed 11 people, injured 50 and blocked the length of the highway.

The catastrophe comes as US-led international forces retreat following two decades of war and Afghanistan is mired in a severe economic crisis since the Taliban claimed responsibility.

In response to the Taliban’s takeover, several countries imposed sanctions on Afghanistan’s banking sector and cut billions of dollars in development aid.

However, humanitarian assistance continues with international organizations such as the United Nations.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has called on humanitarian agencies in Afghanistan to assist in rescue efforts and said teams were being sent to the quake-hit area.

Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman welcomed international aid. Neighboring Pakistan said it was taking steps to provide assistance.

Large parts of South Asia are seismically active because the tectonic plate known as the Indian plate pushes north into the Eurasian plate. read more

In 2015, an earthquake shook northeastern Afghanistan, killing several hundred people in Afghanistan and nearby northern Pakistan.

In January, more than 20 people were killed in an earthquake in western Afghanistan.

(This story adjusts the death toll to 920, not 950)

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Report by Subham Kalia in Bangalore and Mohammad Younus Yawar in Kabul and Jibran Ahmed in Peshawar; Alastair Paul Additional Report in Delhi; Written by Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Robert Brussel and Clarence Fernandez

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