Tragedy Upon Calamity Upon Misery
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An earthquake struck eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday killing more than 1,000 people and injuring at least 1,500 others even as the country continues to reel from a collapsing economy, violence and the lack of international aid, USA Today reported.
Officials said the 5.9 magnitude quake hit about 25 miles southwest of Khost near the Pakistani border at night while people were sleeping. They added that hundreds of homes and buildings have collapsed and the death toll is expected to increase.
Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund pledged $10 million to immediately aid families in the affected provinces of Paktika and Khost. Other officials called for international help and urged aid agencies to send teams to the area immediately to prevent more deaths.
Many international aid organizations departed Afghanistan when the Taliban took over the country last year, following the withdrawal of US-led international troops.
Earthquakes in Afghanistan have remained devastating despite efforts by aid agencies to reinforce buildings over the years, the BBC noted.
Years of conflict have made it difficult for the country to improve its defenses against earthquakes and other natural disasters. Even before the Taliban took power, Afghanistan’s emergency services were overwhelmed by natural calamities, with few planes and helicopters available to rescuers.
Wednesday’s quake was one of the deadliest in the country’s history.
In 2002, a 6.1-magnitude earthquake killed about 1,000 in the country’s north. Four years earlier, a similar tremor in the northeast resulted in the deaths of at least 4,500 people.