Massive destruction
More than 900 dead after earthquake in Afghanistan

Earthquake in Afghanistan

A Red Crescent aide in the affected Paktika region. Many people died in a violent earthquake. Photo: -/Bakhtar News Agency/dpa

© dpa-infocom GmbH

Late in the evening, the earth trembles on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Hundreds of people are being killed and the number of victims is increasing by the hour.

In a devastating earthquake According to official figures, at least 920 people have died in the Afghan-Pakistani border region.

At least 600 residents in the east of Afghanistan were injured after the quake early Wednesday morning, Taliban Deputy Minister of State for Disaster Management Maulawi Sharafuddin Muslim said on Wednesday.

Children and parents are looking for each other

An eyewitness told the German Press Agency of the destruction in the affected areas. “There is great chaos everywhere. I counted a hundred bodies in an hour,” said journalist Rahim Chan Chushal. “The horror is great. Parents can do theirs children cannot find and the children cannot find their parents. Everyone wonders who is dead and who is alive. The houses are made of mud and that’s why they were all destroyed by the strong earthquake.”

the Taliban-Management expressed their sympathy and condolences to the victims. According to the government, dozens of houses in Paktika and Khost provinces were destroyed. Many animals also died. Afghan media reported that one village had been completely destroyed. The construction in the poor and economically weak region is not earthquake-proof for cost reasons, many families live close together. In addition, the earthquake is likely to have surprised the residents at night.

Difficult rescue work in a remote mountain region

Meanwhile, civil protection fears an even higher number of victims. The rescue work was made more difficult by the access to the remote mountain region. The militant Islamist Taliban, who have ruled Afghanistan again since August 2021, called an emergency cabinet meeting. Several helicopters were sent to the disaster area to help local people. A government spokesman called on aid organizations for support. Helpers from the Red Crescent arrived on Wednesday.

The US earthquake monitoring station (USGS) reported the magnitude of the quake shortly before 11 p.m. on Tuesday (local time) as 5.9 and a slightly weaker aftershock. Accordingly, the center of the earthquake was around 50 kilometers southwest of the city of Khost near the border Pakistan at a depth of about ten kilometers. Pakistani authorities registered the earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1.

The Pope prays for the victims

According to Pakistani information, the tremors were felt in large parts of the neighboring country – including in the capital Islamabad and even in Lahore in the east of the country. Panic broke out in some places, but according to initial information, nothing was known about damage or injuries in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his dismay on the Internet and promised help for the people in the neighboring country.

Pope Francis prayed for the victims in Rome. “I express my closeness to the injured and those affected by the earthquake,” said the head of the Catholic Church on Wednesday at the end of the general audience in front of believers and visitors in St. Peter’s Square. The 85-year-old said he prayed especially for those who lost their lives and for their families.

Again and again there are severe earthquakes in the Hindu Kush region and the neighboring countries, where the Arabian, Indian and Eurasian plates meet. In 1998 an earthquake shook northern Afghanistan, killing several thousand people. In Pakistan in 2005, a massive earthquake killed more than 75,000 people and left over 3.5 million homeless. In neighboring Iran, an earthquake in 2003 killed more than 40,000 people and largely destroyed the historic city of Bam.

Humanitarian aid promised

After the earthquake, the German government expressed concern about the events and promised humanitarian aid to the Afghan people. “The federal government expresses its deepest sympathy to the Afghan people,” government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said in Berlin on Wednesday.

Even if Germany does not recognize the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the federal government will continue to support the country in the context of humanitarian aid, Hebestreit assured. However, the federal government did not send the Taliban a letter of condolence because there was no contact person there either.

dpa