Afghanistan reels from deadly earthquake as crisis-hit country struggles for aid


Desperate search and rescue operations were underway in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday following an earthquake that killed more than 1,000 people, a heavy blow for a country already facing a dire economic and humanitarian crisis.

The magnitude 5.9 quake struck during the early hours of Wednesday near the city of Khost by the Pakistan border. At least 1,500 people have been reported injured — but officials warn the toll is likely to rise as many families were sleeping in flimsy housing structures when the quake hit.
Many homes in the area are made of mud, wood and other materials vulnerable to weather damage — and the quake coincided with heavy monsoon rains, adding to the danger of collapse.
Photos from nearby Paktika province, a rural and mountainous region where most of the deaths have been reported, show houses reduced to rubble. About 2,000 homes are thought to have been destroyed, according to the United Nations. Some people spent the night sleeping in makeshift outdoor shelters, as rescuers scoured for survivors by flashlight.
Medics and emergency staff from around the country are converging on the site, with assistance from some international agencies such as the World Health Organization.
However, help may be limited as many organizations pulled out of the aid-dependent country after the Taliban seized power last August.
The Taliban government has deployed emergency resources, including several helicopters and dozens of ambulances, and has offered compensation to victims’ families.
It has also called for foreign aid, pleading for “the generous support of all countries, international organizations, individuals and foundations” on Wednesday.


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