The death toll from an e a r t h q u a k e that struck e a s t e r n Afghanistan early Wednesday has surpassed 1,000, while more than 1,500 people were injured, a provincial official said, adding that the number of casualties might rise further.
“More than 1,000 people were killed and 1,500 injured as a result of the earthquake and subsequent landslide in two districts of Gayan and Barmal of Paktika,” Mohammad Amin Haddifa, chairman of the provincial directorate of information and culture.
Villagers rushed to bury the dead on Thursday.
Men dug a line of graves in one village as they tried to lay the dead to rest quickly in line with Muslim tradition. The villagers also dug through the rubble of their homes in search of survivors.
In the neighbouring Khost province, at least 25 people were killed and 100 others wounded after more than 600 houses, mosques, and shops were destroyed by the quake, according to Khost provincial officials.
The quake was Afghanistan’s deadliest in two decades, The Trumpet gathered.
The disaster inflicted by the 6-magnitude quake comes as Afghanistan continues to struggle with a severe economic crisis since the Taliban took over, as US-led international forces withdrew following two decades of war.
The takeover led to a cut-off of vital international financing, and most of the world has shunned the Taliban government. U.S. President Joe Biden offered condolences over the earthquake and had promised assistance.
Biden on Wednesday ordered USAID and other federal government partners to assess U.S. response options to help those most affected.
“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.” United Nations S e c r e t a r y – G e n e r a l Antonio Guterres said the global agency has “fully mobilized” 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.
Two South Asian nations, India and Pakistan have sent humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. India said it has sent a technical team to the Afghan capital, Kabul, to coordinate the delivery of aid, while trucks of food and other necessities arrived from Pakistan.