The death toll from June 21 earthquake in Afghanistan has risen to 1,150, an official said. At least 1,600 people have been wounded in the magnitude 6.1 quake which shook the country’s east, Abdul Wahid Rayan, a senior Taliban official and director general of state-run Bakhtar News Agency, was reported as saying on June 23.
Some 1,800 houses have collapsed, he added. Rescue workers continue clearing the rubble to release the injured and recover bodies.
Paktika and Khost are the most affected Afghan provinces where several villages were completely destroyed by the deadly earthquake. The earthquake struck areas that were already suffering the effects of heavy rain, causing rockfalls and mudslides that hampered rescue efforts.
According to the locals, mass funerals were held on June 22. The injured have been transferred to hospitals, with some people in critical condition.
On June 22, the interim Taliban government in Afghanistan announced an aid package of 1 billion Afghanis (over $11 million) for the victims. “The government is working within its capabilities,” tweeted Anas Haqqani, a senior Taliban official. “We hope that the International Community & aid agencies will also help our people in this dire situation.”
Humanitarian aid from Pakistan, Qatar, and Iran has arrived in the country, the official said. On June 23 Turkmenistan announced that it will send humanitarian assistance to earthquake victims in Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov, while addressing Mohammad Fazel Saber, charge d’affaires of the Afghanistan Embassy in Ashgabat, expressed his country’s willingness to provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people in the near future.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the global agency has “fully mobilised” to help, deploying health teams and supplies of medicine, food, trauma kits and emergency shelter to the quake zone.
The United States, whose troops remained in Afghanistan for two decades until Washington pulled them out last year, was “deeply saddened” by the earthquake, the White House said.
“President Biden is monitoring developments and has directed USAID (US Agency for International Development) and other federal government partners to assess US response options to help those most affected,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement.
The European Union was also quick to offer assistance. Tomas Niklasson, EU special envoy for Afghanistan, tweeted: “The EU is monitoring the situation and stands ready to coordinate and provide EU emergency assistance to people and communities affected.”
Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.