Home General News Poor communication hinders aid as it seeps into Afghanistan’s earthquake zone

Poor communication hinders aid as it seeps into Afghanistan’s earthquake zone

by Anthony L. Gonzalez

Aid has begun to arrive in a remote part of Afghanistan where an earthquake has killed 1,000 people. Still, poor communications and roads hamper relief efforts in a country grappling with a humanitarian crisis.

The earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale, struck early Wednesday about 100 miles southeast of Kabul, in arid mountains dotted with small settlements near the Pakistani border.

“We can’t reach the area, the networks are too weak, we’re trying to get updates,” Mohammad Ismail Muawiyah, a spokesman for the Taliban’s top military commander in the hardest-hit province of Paktika, told Reuters, citing telephone networks.

Poor communication hinders aid as it seeps into Afghanistan's earthquake zone

The quake killed about 1,000 people and injured 1,500, he said. More than 3000 houses were destroyed.

According to US government data, the toll is the deadliest earthquake in Afghanistan in two decades.

About 1,000 people had been rescued from several affected areas by Thursday morning, Sharafat Zaman, a spokesman for the health ministry, told Reuters.

“There is help in the area, and it continues, but more is needed,” he said.

The town of Gayan, close to the epicenter, has suffered significant damage, and most of the mud-walled buildings have been damaged or completely collapsed, a Reuters team said.

The city, with only the most basic of roads, was swarming with Taliban soldiers and ambulances when a helicopter delivering relief supplies landed nearby, stirring up huge clouds of dust. About 300 people sat on the ground waiting for supplies.

The rescue operation will be a major test for the hard-line Islamist Taliban, which took over last August when US-led international forces withdrew after two decades of war.

The humanitarian situation had deteriorated alarmingly since the Taliban takeover, aid officials say, and the country was cut off from much international aid due to sanctions.

Afghanistan’s economy has virtually collapsed, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a call to aid donors in late March.

Drought has undermined food production, and 9 million Afghans face famine. He said some families have been forced to sell children and organs to survive.

The United Nations said the World Food Program (WFP) sent food and logistics equipment to the affected areas to initially support 3,000 households.

“The Afghan people are already facing an unprecedented crisis after decades of conflict, severe drought, and an economic downturn,” said Gordon Craig, WFP’s deputy country director in Afghanistan.

“The earthquake will only add to their daily humanitarian needs.”

Japan and South Korea also said they plan to send aid.

Large areas of South Asia are seismically active as a tectonic plate known as the Indian plate pushes northward into the Eurasian plate.

In 2015, an earthquake struck the remote Afghan northeast, killing hundreds of people in Afghanistan and nearby northern Pakistan.

Related Articles