Afghanistan was hit by a massive earthquake early Wednesday morning, causing the death of at least 1,000 people. Around 1,500 others have been injured in the now-unfolding disaster.
The Associated Press said that the earthquake that struck Afghanistan was between 5.9 - 6.1 on the Richter scale, impacting the mountainous region of eastern Afghanistan. Local officials anticipate the death count to climb as more victims are recovered from the debris.
The Associated Press reported:
“Rescuers rushed to the area by helicopter Wednesday, but the response is likely to be complicated since many international aid agencies left Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover."
“Reaching rural areas even in the best circumstances remains difficult in Afghanistan, a landlocked nation just smaller than Texas with rutted mountain roadways that may now have sustained significant damage.”
Tremors from the earthquake have also impacted neighbour Pakistan, whose meteorological department determined the earthquake's epicenter to be in the Paktika province of Afghanistan.
The earthquake now registers as having the highest death toll for any seismic event in the region since 2002.
Following the disaster, the United Nations’ humanitarian agency OCHA says that Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense is leading response efforts to facilitate medical evacuations.
The victims’ immediate needs include emergency trauma care, emergency shelter, food assistance, water, and sanitation. To facilitate their needs, OCHA is coordinating an emergency response with the United Nations and its partners to deploy teams to Paktika and Khost, which was also affected.
“The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has dispatched several mobile health and nutrition teams to provide first aid to the injured,” the United Nations stated.
“The de facto authorities have requested the support of UNICEF and other UN agency teams who are joining efforts to assess the situation and respond to the needs of the affected communities,” said Dr. Mohamed Ayoya, UNICEF’s representative in Afghanistan. “We stand in solidarity with the children and families affected during this difficult time.”
According to the BBC, the Taliban, which took over Afghanistan following Biden’s disastrous withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country, appealed for international help.
Taliban has asked the United Nations to “support them in terms of assessing the needs and responding to those affected,” said a UNICEF representative to the publication.
Over the past 10 years, around 7,000 people have been killed in earthquakes throughout Afghanistan in sporadic earthquake events, according to OCHA.