Taliban Appeal For Help After Afghanistan Quake Kills More Than 1,000
Post created on 12:49 pm
Afghan authorities struggled on Thursday to reach a remote area hit by an earthquake that killed some 1,000 people but poor communications and a lack of proper roads hampered their efforts, officials said, as the country’s supreme leader pleaded with the international community for help.
The magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck early on Wednesday about 160 kilometres (100 miles) southeast of Kabul, in arid mountains dotted with small settlements near the border with Pakistan. It struck areas that were already suffering the effects of heavy rain, causing rockfalls and mudslides that hampered rescue efforts.
“We can’t reach the area, the networks are too weak, we’re trying to get updates,” Mohammad Ismail Muawiyah, a spokesman for the top Taliban military commander in hardest-hit Paktika province, told Reuters, referring to telephone networks.
The earthquake killed some 1,000 people and injured 1,500, he said. More than 3,000 houses were destroyed. About 600 people had been rescued from various affected areas on Wednesday night, he added.
In a rare move, the Taliban’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzadah, who almost never appears in public, pleaded with the international community and humanitarian organisations “to help the Afghan people affected by this great tragedy and to spare no effort”.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the global agency had “fully mobilised” to help, with UN officials confirming the deployment of health teams and supplies of medicine, food, trauma kits and emergency shelter to the quake zone.
The rescue operation will be a major test for the hard-line Islamist Taliban authorities, who took over the country last August after two decades of war and have been cut off from much international assistance because of sanctions. The Taliban-led ministry of defence is leading rescue efforts.