sunny.png
Friday June 24th, 2022 6:41PM

Afghans bury dead, dig for survivors of devastating quake

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

GAYAN, Afghanistan (AP) — Villagers rushed to bury the dead Thursday and dug by hand through the rubble of their homes in search of survivors of a powerful earthquake in eastern Afghanistan that state media reported killed 1,000 people. Residents appeared to be largely on their own to deal with the aftermath as their new Taliban-led government and the international aid community struggled to bring in help.

Under a leaden sky in Paktika province, the epicenter of Wednesday’s earthquake where hundreds of homes have been destroyed, men dug several long trenches on a mountainside overlooking their village. They prayed over around 100 bodies wrapped in blankets and then buried them.

In villages across Gayan district, toured by Associated Press journalists for hours Thursday, families who had spent the previous rainy night out in the open lifted pieces of timber of collapsed roofs and pulled away stones by hand, looking for missing loved ones. Taliban fighters circulated in vehicles in the area, but only a few were seen helping dig through rubble.

There was little sign of heavy equipment — only one bulldozer was spotted being transported. Ambulances circulated, but little other help to the living was evident.

Many international aid agencies withdrew from Afghanistan when the Taliban seized power nearly 10 months ago. Those that remain are scrambling to get medical supplies, food and tents to the remote quake-struck area, using shoddy mountain roads made worse by damage and rains.

“We ask from the Islamic Emirate and the whole country to come forward and help us,” said a survivor who gave his name as Hakimullah. “We are with nothing and have nothing, not even a tent to live in.”

The scenes underscored how the magnitude 6 quake has struck a country that was already nearly on its knees from multiple humanitarian crises.

The quake took the lives of 1,000 people, according to the state-run Bakhtar News Agency, which also reported an estimated 1,500 more were injured. In the first independent count, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said around 770 people had been killed in Paktika and neighboring Khost province.

It’s not clear how the totals were arrived at, given the difficulties of accessing and communicating with the affected villages. Either grim toll would make the quake Afghanistan’s deadliest in two decades, and officials continued to warn the number could still rise.

Since the Taliban took over in August amid the U.S and NATO withdrawal, the world pulled back financing and development aid that had been keeping the country afloat. The economy collapsed, leaving millions unable to afford food; many medical facilities shut down, making treatment harder to find. Nearly half the population of 38 million faces crisis levels of food insecurity.

Many aid and development agencies also left after the Taliban seizure of power. The U.N. and remaining agencies said they were moving blankets, food, tents, and medical teams to the area.

But they are over-stretched, and U.N. agencies are facing a $3 billion funding shortfall for Afghanistan this year. That means there will be difficult decisions about who gets aid, said Peter Kessler, a spokesman for the United Nations’ refugee agency.

Local medical centers, already struggling to deal with malnutrition cases, were now overwhelmed with people injured by the quake, said Adnan Junaid, the International Rescue Committee vice president for Asia.

“The toll this disaster will have on the local communities ... is catastrophic, and the impact the earthquake will have on the already stretched humanitarian response in Afghanistan is a grave cause for concern,” Junaid said.

The Defense Ministry, which leads the Taliban emergency effort, said it sent 22 helicopter flights on Wednesday transporting wounded and taking supplies, along with several more Thursday.

Still, the Taliban’s resources have been gutted by the economic crisis. Made up of insurgents who fought for 20 years against the U.S. and NATO, the Taliban have also struggled to make the transition to governing.

On Wednesday, a U.N. official said the government had not requested that the world body mobilize international search-and-rescue teams or obtain equipment from neighboring countries, despite a rare plea from the Taliban’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzadah, for help from the world.

Trucks of food and other necessities arrived from Pakistan, and planes full of humanitarian aid landed from Iran and Qatar, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid wrote on Twitter. India said it sent a technical team to its embassy in Kabul to coordinate the delivery of humanitarian assistance, but it didn't give details on the team or the relief material being sent.

Pakistan also opened several nearby border crossings to allow those affected by the disaster to cross, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sherif said in a call with the Taliban Prime Minister Mullah Hasan Akhund.

Obtaining more direct international help may be more difficult: Many countries, including the U.S., funnel humanitarian aid to Afghanistan through the U.N. and other organizations to avoid putting money in the Taliban’s hands, wary of dealing with the group, which has issued a flurry of repressive edicts curtailing the rights of women and girls and the press.

Germany, Norway and several other countries announced they were sending aid for the quake, but underscored that they would work only through U.N. agencies, not with the Taliban.

In a news bulletin Thursday, Afghanistan state television made a point to acknowledge that President Joe Biden of the United States — their one-time enemy — offered condolences over the earthquake and had promised aid. Biden on Wednesday ordered the U.S. international aid agency and its partners to “assess” options for helping the victims, a White House statement said.

U.N. deputy special representative for Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov, told the U.N. Security Council in a video briefing he intends to visit quake-hit areas on Friday and “to meet with affected families, first-hand responders, including women’s civil society groups who are working to ensure that assistance reaches women and girls, and to support overall relief efforts.”

In Paktika province, the quake shook a region of deep poverty, where residents scrape out in a living in the few fertile areas among the rough mountains. Roads are so difficult that some villages in Gayan District took a full day to reach from Kabul, though it is only 175 kilometers (110 miles away.)

One 6-year-old boy in Gayan wept as he said his parents, two sisters and a brother were all dead. He had fled the ruins of his own home and took refuge with the neighbors.

While modern buildings withstand magnitude 6 earthquakes elsewhere, Afghanistan’s mud-brick homes and landslide-prone mountains make such quakes more dangerous.

One man, Rahim Jan, stood inside the few standing mud-brick walls of his home with the toppled roof timbers all around him.

“It is destroyed completely, all my belongings are gone,” he said. “I have lost 12 members of my family in this house.”

___

Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Lee Keath in Cairo, and Rahim Faiez and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News, AP Business
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
US markets higher as Fed chief addresses Congress again
Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street Thursday
9:41AM ( 13 minutes ago )
NHL, players union, alumni association team up for NFT deal
The NHL, NHL Players' Association and NHL Alumni Association are teaming up to get hockey into the NFT marketplace
9:35AM ( 18 minutes ago )
Afghans bury dead, dig for survivors of devastating quake
Villagers rushed to bury the dead and dug by hand through the rubble of their homes in search of survivors of a powerful earthquake in eastern Afghanistan
9:30AM ( 23 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
John Williams, 90, steps away from film, but not music
After more than six decades of making bicycles soar, sending swimmers panicking and other spellbinding close encounters, John Williams is putting the final notes on what may be his last film score
8:42AM ( 1 hour ago )
Afghans bury dead, dig for survivors after quake kills 1,000
Villagers rushed to bury the dead and dug by hand through the rubble of their homes in search of survivors of a powerful earthquake in eastern Afghanistan
8:21AM ( 1 hour ago )
US markets stable before Fed chief addresses Congress again
Wall Street is poised to open higher at the opening bell a day after the head of the Federal Reserve acknowledged that a recession is possible
8:19AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
3 summits offer test of Western unity, dominated by Ukraine
Three consecutive summits over the next week will test Western resolve to support Ukraine and the extent of international unity as rising geopolitical tensions and economic pain cast an increasingly long shadow
5:06AM ( 4 hours ago )
Germany faces gas supply 'crisis,' declares alarm level
Germany has activated the second phase of its three-stage emergency plan for natural gas supplies, saying the country faces a “crisis” and warning that storage targets for the winter are at risk due to dwindling deliveries from Russia
4:57AM ( 4 hours ago )
Survivors dig by hand after Afghanistan quake killing 1,000
Survivors are digging by hand through villages in eastern Afghanistan reduced to rubble by a powerful earthquake that killed at least 1,000 people
4:37AM ( 5 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Myanmar says Suu Kyi held alone in new prison quarters
Myanmar’s military has confirmed that ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved to a prison where she will have quarters separate from other detainees
7:58AM ( 1 hour ago )
Indian officials in Sri Lanka for talks on ailing economy
Senior Indian officials are in Sri Lanka for talks on how to help the island nation weather an unprecedented economic crisis
7:37AM ( 2 hours ago )
Trains canceled in UK as unions stage 2nd 24-hour walkout
Millions of people in Britain are facing disruption as railway staff stage their second national walkout of the week
6:40AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP World News
Air France-KLM boss warns travelers: Go to the airport early
The chief of airline alliance Air France-KLM says it will take weeks or months to get new security staff in place to lighten pressure on the Amsterdam airport
8:30AM ( 1 hour ago )
Exec returns to Toyota as adviser after '15 arrest in Japan
An American executive who resigned from Toyota after being arrested in Japan in 2015 on suspicion of drug law violations has returned to the Japanese automaker
6:33AM ( 3 hours ago )
Global stocks, Wall St mixed on growth worries
European stocks have opened lower while Asian markets gained after the Federal Reserve chairman said a recession is possible as the U.S. central bank raises interest rates to cool surging inflation
5:17AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Business
US markets higher as Fed chief addresses Congress again
Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street Thursday
9:41AM ( 13 minutes ago )
NHL, players union, alumni association team up for NFT deal
The NHL, NHL Players' Association and NHL Alumni Association are teaming up to get hockey into the NFT marketplace
9:35AM ( 19 minutes ago )
Germany faces natural gas 'crisis,' raises warning level
Germany has activated the second phase of its three-stage emergency plan for natural gas supplies, saying the country faces a “crisis” and warning that storage targets for the winter are at risk due to dwindling deliveries from Russia
9:02AM ( 52 minutes ago )
Ancient home, prayer room open at Rome's Baths of Caracalla
One the most spectacular examples of ancient Roman baths, the Baths of Caracalla, has become more spectacular
8:45AM ( 1 hour ago )
Fewer Americans file for jobless aid
Fewer Americans applied for jobless benefits last week as the U.S. job market remains robust despite myriad economic pressures, including four-decade high inflation
8:43AM ( 1 hour ago )