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Rescuers dig by hand for quake survivors amid confusion over Taliban aid appeal

A survivor of an earthquake has spoken out about the loss of 26 relatives members. Rescuers had to resort to hand digging in the villages that were razed to the ground in eastern Afghanistan.

This is despite confusion about an official request for assistance. The Taliban government claims it has requested international assistance. However, the US insists that it has not received any formal communication.

The European Union quickly stepped in to help, allocating EUR1m for humanitarian aid and warning that “an estimated 270,000 people who live in the affected areas will need emergency assistance”.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi offered his condolences via Twitter and humanitarian assistance. Japan, South Korea, and Pakistan have also offered their support.

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Sardar ahmed Shakib is the Taliban’s ambassador to Islamabad, Pakistan. He told Sky News that the current situation was more dire than ever and that he expects more from the international community.

He said, “This is a crisis of human rights and critics of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan commit human rights violations.”

After being cut off from international aid since last summer’s takeover, the rescue efforts of the hard-line Islamist leadership of the country will be tested. Despite the drought and economic collapse, there have been no positive responses to aid appeals.

Learn more about Afghanistan

After a 6.1 magnitude earthquake that struck Wednesday, more than 1,000 people were killed and 1,500 were injured in the rural area. The earthquake flattened homes and destroyed mud-brick and stone houses.

Most of the deaths occurred in Paktika province, where significant damage to buildings was sustained by the district of Gayan. This is close to the epicenter of the 6.1 magnitude earthquake.

Image After bringing aid to Gayan, in Paktika province, a Taliban helicopter takes off.
Image Afghans dig trench to bury their relatives in Paktika Province

Rescue teams and villagers resumed their search for survivors on Thursday by digging through rubble using their hands. Mohammad Amin Huzaifa (head of the information culture department in Paktika) said that “People are digging graves after grave.”

A man who was receiving treatment at Paktika Provincial Hospital stated that he had lost many relatives, including his children.

“I was at home when the earthquake occurred at 1.30 AM local time. Gulak stated that everything fell on us, and that I didn’t know what was happening at the time.

“I lost 26 family members, including close relatives and cousins… even my children were killed.”

Amir Gul stated that he had lost seven relatives and six more were injured.

“All the houses were destroyed and ruined by the strong earthquake. Paktika is a large province, but there are no food, tents or other facilities.

“The people are now under open skies. He said, “We are asking for help… many people are hurt.”

This disaster occurs amid a humanitarian and economic crisis in Afghanistan, since August 2021 when the Taliban took control and after the US pulled out of international combat troops after twenty-years of war.

The Western sanctions against its banking sector and reductions in aid have weakened an already fragile economy that is heavily dependent on international aid.

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