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Taliban officials have pleaded for international assistance in the wake of the 6.1-magnitude earthquake that struck the country on Wednesday (June 22).
More than 1,000 people have been killed and at least have been 1,500 injured in Afghanistan, with the toll expected to grow as more information comes in from remote villages.
The southeastern province of Paktika has been worst-hit, with 255 people killed and more than 200 injured. The United Nations is scrambling to provide emergency shelter and aid to the area.
The disaster signals a new test for the rulers of Afghanistan, who had already been struggling with a large-scale humanitarian crisis since taking control of the country.
The Taliban takeover following the withdrawal of US troops nearly 10 months ago led to The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund cutting off finance to the country, and other nations have shunned its leadership.
However, the Taliban’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzadah, who has rarely appeared publicly, appealed to humanitarian organisations ‘to help the Afghan people affected by this great tragedy and spare no effort'.
Neighbouring countries Pakistan and Iran have been the first to offer humanitarian aid, with food and medicine being sent to the country.
Meanwhile, senior Taliban official Qahar Balkhi has admitted the government was ‘financially unable to assist the people to the extent that is needed’.
He added: “The assistance needs to be scaled up to a very large extent because this is a devastating earthquake which hasn't been experienced in decades."
According to the UN’s deputy special representative to Afghanistan Ramiz Alakbarov, via ABC News, at least 2,000 homes have been destroyed with each household having at least seven or eight people living in it.
Mr Alakabrov says the Taliban has not formally requested the UN help with search and rescue teams, nor asked to obtain equipment from neighbouring countries.
Deeply saddened at the news of the devastating earthquake in Afghanistan today. My deepest condolences on loss of precious lives.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 22, 2022
India stands by the people of Afghanistan in their difficult times and is ready to provide all possible disaster relief material at the earliest.
However, they have allowed UN agencies to give them full access to the area.
According to the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (ESMC), the earthquake was felt for 500 kilometres by people in Pakistan and India.
A survivor named Shabir told the BBC: “There was a rumbling and my bed began to shake.
"The ceiling fell down. I was trapped, but I could see the sky. My shoulder was dislocated, my head was hurt but I got out.
"I am sure that seven or nine people from my family, who were in the same room as me, are dead".
Featured Image Credit: REUTERS / Alamy. Xinhua / Alamy.
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