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An aftershock rocked a hard-hit area of eastern Afghanistan on Friday, two days after earthquake shook the regionaccording to state media, hundreds of mud-brick houses were destroyed and 1,150 people were killed.
Pakistan’s meteorological department reported a 4.2 magnitude earthquake in southeastern Afghanistan, which claimed five more lives in the hard-hit Gayan district and injured 11 people, according to state news agency Bakhtar.
The country of 38 million was already in the midst of a growing economic crisis that plunged millions into deep poverty with more than a million children at risk of severe malnutrition.
Wednesday’s magnitude 6 quake, which struck while people were sleeping, left thousands homeless and drew attention to the country’s growing needs. Afghanistan remains cut off from the international monetary system, and aid groups have lamented having to pay local staff in bags of hand-delivered cash as countries refuse to deal directly with the Taliban.
Aid organizations such as the local Red Crescent and the World Food Program intervened to help the most vulnerable families with food and other urgent needs such as tents and sleeping mats in Paktika province, the epicenter of the earthquake, and neighboring Khost province.
However, the residents appear to have been largely on their own to deal with the aftermath as their new government led by the Taliban and the international aid community is struggling to provide assistance. Dilapidated mountain roads leading to the affected areas have deteriorated due to damage and rain. The villagers buried their dead and dug through the rubble by hand in search of survivors.
Agency Taliban director Bakhtar said on Friday that the death toll had risen to 1,150 from previous reports of 1,000 killed. Abdul Wahid Rayyan said at least 1,600 people were injured.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs puts the death toll at 770.
It is not clear how the death toll is achieved, given the difficulty of accessing and communicating with the affected villages. Any one of those horrific casualties would make Afghanistan’s deadliest earthquake in two decades.
State media reported that about 3,000 houses were destroyed or severely damaged. The earthquake damaged at least 1,000 houses in the Gayan region. Another 800 houses were damaged in the Spera district of the Khost region.
While modern buildings endure magnitude 6 earthquakes elsewhereMud houses in Afghanistan and landslide-prone mountains make such earthquakes more dangerous.
The roads in the area are so poorly paved and difficult to navigate that some villages in the Gayan region can be reached in a full day from Kabul, although it is only 175 kilometers (110 miles) away.
In villages across the Gayan District visited by the Associated Press for several hours Thursday, families who had spent the previous rainy night outdoors lifted pieces of collapsed roofs and manually hauled out rocks in search of missing loved ones. Taliban fighters moved through the area in vehicles, but only a few people were seen helping to dig the rubble.
There was little sign of heavy machinery – only one bulldozer was seen. Ambulances drove by, but there was no other help for the living. One 6-year-old boy in Gayane was crying, saying that his parents, two sisters and brother were dead. He escaped from the ruins of his own house and took refuge with his neighbors.
Many international aid agencies withdrew from Afghanistan when the Taliban took over last August. Those who remain are trying to deliver medical supplies, food and tents to remote earthquake-hit areas. UN agencies also face a $3 billion funding shortfall for Afghanistan this year.
Germany, Norway and a number of other countries announced that they were sending aid to earthquake victims, but stressed that they would only work through UN agencies, and not with the Taliban, which has not yet been officially recognized by any government. Countries have urged the Taliban to prioritize human rights issues, chief among which are the rights and freedoms of Afghan women and girls.
The International Rescue Committee has emergency medical teams in two provinces to provide first aid and said it is providing cash assistance to families who have lost their homes and livelihoods in the earthquake. Organization active in Afghanistan since 1988 calls for international roadmap for final liberation Foreign exchange reserves of Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s takeover of the country last year as the US prepared to withdraw its troops prompted the Biden administration to freeze some $9.5 billion the Afghan central bank has in US banks, preventing the new rulers from paying civil servants and importing goods. .
Trucks loaded with food and other essentials arrived from Pakistan, while humanitarian aid planes landed from Iran and Qatar. India Humanitarian Aid and Technical Team to the capital Kabul to coordinate the delivery of humanitarian aid. India says its aid will be shared with the UN agency on the ground and the Afghan Red Crescent Society.
In the province of Paktika, an earthquake has shaken a region of deep poverty where residents barely make ends meet in a few fertile areas amid rugged mountains.
There are predictions cited by the UN and others that the poverty rate could rise to 97% of the population and the unemployment rate to 40% this year.