Taliban says earthquake relief work almost complete

Aid has started reaching remote areas of Afghanistan, where earthquake hits At least 1000 people diedas Taliban officials say, the rescue operation is almost complete.

Earlier on Wednesday, the 6.1-magnitude quake struck about 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Kabul, a dry mountainous region dotted with small settlements close to the border with Pakistan.

Poor communications and a lack of suitable roads have hampered relief efforts in the country, and the humanitarian crisis has escalated since the Taliban took power last August.

“The rescue operation has been completed and no one is trapped under the rubble,” Mohammad Ismail al-Muawiyah, a spokesman for the top Taliban military commander in the hardest-hit Paktika province, told Reuters on Thursday.

Afghans lay their clothes to dry on dry bushes near the rubble of earthquake-damaged houses in Bernal district of Paktika province [Sahel Arman/AFP]

The Taliban’s defense ministry said as early as Wednesday that 90 percent of the search and rescue operation had been completed, the United Nations said on Thursday.

About 1,000 people were killed and 1,500 injured in the quake, Muawiya said. More than 3,000 houses were destroyed.

Death toll makes it Afghanistan’s deadliest earthquake Within 20 years, according to US government data.

About 1,000 people had been rescued as of Thursday morning, health ministry spokesman Sharafat Zaman told Reuters.

“Aid has reached the area and is continuing, but more is needed,” he said.

Reporter Ali Latifi told Al Jazeera from Paktika province that the situation there was “very bad”.

“When you fly over these areas in these helicopters, you notice that they are basically sitting on these mountains and hillsides, which are unpaved, rocky areas … the whole house is built out of dirt. People have the most basic really poor areas of living standards,” he said.

“Even the closest clinic in one of our areas, they said it was 30 minutes away – even if it was a private clinic, it was going to cost a lot of money for people to go there. It’s very difficult to get there again.”

appeal for aid

The response to the disaster was a major test for the Taliban, which took over after the US-led international forces withdrew after two decades of war.

Aid officials say the humanitarian situation has worsened alarmingly since the Taliban took over, with the country cut off from much international aid due to sanctions.

Abdul Qahar Balkhi, spokesman for Afghanistan’s foreign ministry, made repeated calls on Thursday. international aid Coming soon.

“We call on natural disaster management agencies and the international community to provide immediate and comprehensive assistance to the Afghan people,” he tweeted.

In an appeal to aid donors in late March, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said Afghanistan’s economy had nearly collapsed.

Drought disrupted food production, and 9 million Afghans faced famine. He said some families were forced to sell children and organs to survive.

Earthquake damage in Afghanistan
Afghans in devastation after earthquake in Gayan village [Ebrahim Nooroozi/AP Photo]

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the global agency had been “fully mobilized” to help, deploying medical teams and medicines, food, trauma kits and emergency shelters to the quake zone.

The United Nations said its World Food Programme (WFP) was delivering food and logistics equipment to the affected areas, with an initial goal of supporting 3,000 households.

“After decades of conflict, severe drought and economic recession, the Afghan people are already facing an unprecedented crisis,” said Gordon Craig, WFP’s Deputy Country Director for Afghanistan.

“The earthquake will only add to the enormous humanitarian needs they experience every day.”

Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United Arab Emirates all said on Thursday that they planned to provide aid. Supplies from neighboring Pakistan have crossed the border.

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