Afghanistan quake survivors fear for health, wellbeing

39
3
Afghanistan quake survivors fear for health, wellbeing

The death toll rose to 1,150 and the first shipments of international aid arrived in the country, as there are growing fears for the health and wellbeing of survivors of Wednesday's earthquake in Afghanistan.

There is no shelter, no blankets, tents, or tents. Our entire water distribution system is destroyed. There is literally nothing to eat, said Zaitullah Ghurziwal, 21, who reached his village in the province of Paktika.

Thousands of people have been left without shelter after the night-time quake, which brought into sharp focus on Afghanistan's compounding needs.

The health ministry does not have enough drugs, we need medical aid and other necessities because it is a big disaster, an official said. He said that an aftershock killed five people on Friday, but there was no immediate information on the extent of the new damage and injuries.

India and Iran sent tents, blankets and other relief supplies for a team to distribute in eastern villages, where thousands of timber and stone homes were reduced to rubble.

Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates said they were planning to send aid, while the first supplies from Pakistan have already crossed the border. Germany, Norway, and several other countries also announced they would be sending aid, but they also stated that they would work only through UN agencies, not with the Taliban, which no government has officially recognised.

Near to 3,000 homes were damaged or destroyed after the magnitude 6 earthquake, according to state media. It hit a mountainous region close to the border with Pakistan in the early hours of Wednesday morning, levelling whole villages in some of the worst-affected districts.

Aid groups in Afghanistan are lamenting having to pay local staff with bags of cash delivered by hand, because nations don't deal directly with the Taliban, despite the fact that Afghanistan is cut off from the international monetary system.

Aid organisations such as the Red Crescent and World Food Programme have stepped in to help the most vulnerable families with food and other emergency needs in the province of Paktika, above the epicentre of the earthquake and neighbouring Khost province.

Residents appeared to be left largely on their own to deal with the aftermath as the Taliban-led government and the international aid community struggled to bring in help. The shoddy mountain roads leading to the affected areas were worsened by the damage and rain. Villagers have been burying the dead and digging through the rubble by hand in search of survivors.

The death toll had risen to 1,150 people, from previous reports of 1,000, according to the Taliban director of the state-owned Bakhtar news agency. Abdul Wahid Rayan said at least 1,600 people were injured.

The takeover of the country last year after the US was preparing to withdraw its troops prompted the Biden administration to freeze about $9.5 bn 7.7 bn that the Afghan central bank has in US banks, hampering the new rulers' efforts to pay civil servants and import goods.