Afghan earthquake survivors dig by hand as rescuers struggle to reach area | Global Development

Organized rescue efforts struggle to reach earthquake site in Afghanistan that killed more than 1,000 people, while survivors dig through the rubble by hand to find those still missing.

In the hard-hit Gayan district of Paktika province, villagers stood on mud bricks that were once a home. Others carefully walked through unmade alleys, clutching at damaged walls with exposed wooden beams to find their way.

The earthquake was the deadliest in Afghanistan in two decades and officials said: the toll could rise† An estimated 1,500 other people were injured, according to the state news agency.

The earthquake struck early Wednesday morning in an area near the border with Pakistan. Rescue efforts have been complicated by the fact that many countries have suspended or reduced aid to Afghanistan after last year’s Taliban takeover.

How — and whether the Taliban will allow it — for the world to provide aid remained in question as rescuers dug through the rubble without heavy equipment as best they could.

As a sign of the shaky cooperation between the Taliban and the rest of the world, the Taliban had not formally requested the UN to mobilize international search and rescue teams or obtain equipment from neighboring countries to supplement the several dozen ambulances and several helicopters it sent. by the Afghan authorities, said Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN’s deputy special representative in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan earthquake survivors call for help – video

Rescue efforts were further hampered by rough country roads and recent heavy rain and hail.

“We are asking the Islamic emirate and the entire country to come forward and help us,” said one survivor who mentioned his name Hakimullah. “We are nothing and have nothing, not even a tent to live in.”

The full extent of the devastation between the villages hidden in the mountains was slowly coming to light. However, officials from multiple UN agencies said the Taliban allowed full access to the area.

The UN said the World Food Program (WFP) was sending food and logistics equipment to the affected areas, aiming to initially support 3,000 households.

“The Afghan people are already facing an unprecedented crisis after decades of conflict, severe drought and an economic downturn,” said Gordon Craig, WFP’s deputy country director in Afghanistan. “The earthquake will only add to the already huge humanitarian needs they face on a daily basis.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that eight trucks carrying food and other supplies from Pakistan had arrived in Paktika. He also said on Thursday that two planes carrying humanitarian aid from Iran and another from Qatar had arrived in Afghanistan.


However, other Taliban officials emphasized the difficulties they had in scaling up the rescue operation.

Gholam Ghaos Naseri, the Taliban’s deputy minister of natural disasters, said: “We have sent dozens of people to rescue people from under the rubble, but that is not enough. Iran has promised us help and their rescue teams are on their way to the area.

“We call on the international humanitarian community, NGOs and humanitarian organizations not to leave our people alone during this terrible time. Help our people. For now we need things like food, tents, clothes and drugs.

“We have sent dozens of people to rescue people from under the rubble, but it is not enough. Iran has promised us help and their rescue teams are on their way to the area. We are appealing for international humanitarian aid.”

Mohammad Ismail Muawiyah, a spokesman for the Taliban’s top military commander in Paktika, told Reuters: “We cannot reach the area, the networks are too weak, we are trying to get updates,” referring to telephone networks.

A volunteer, Faiz Muhammad Sameem, 36, describes the rescue efforts in Paktika: “Ambulances, helicopters and motorcycles, everyone is involved in the relief effort, but the hospital does not have enough facilities, the first aid was delivered in the hospital.

“It’s a horrific scene. There were people who lost all their relatives. Some have lost 10 relatives or some people have lost entire families.

“I saw a five-year-old child who was the only survivor in his 13-member family. I don’t know how he will survive or if he knows what he has lost. It is unbearable.”

Getting more direct international aid can be difficult, however: many countries, including the US, funnel humanitarian aid into Afghanistan through the UN and other such organizations to prevent money from ending up in the hands of the Taliban.

But in a news bulletin on Thursday, Afghan state television made it clear that US President Joe Biden, their former enemy, expressed condolences for the earthquake and promised assistance.

Biden on Wednesday instructed “USAid and other federal government partners to assess U.S. response capabilities to help those most affected,” according to a White House statement.

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