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Aid Group Warns Devastation From Afghanistan Earthquake ‘Worse Than We Imagined’

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Over 2,000 people were killed and many more were injured in this weekend’s earthquake in western Afghanistan, which has prompted international humanitarian organizations to rush aid to the survivors in the war-torn country that is already experiencing an economic crisis.

The third greatest earthquake in Afghanistan, with a magnitude of 6.3, occurred on Saturday 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Herat city in the western Herat province. One of the deadliest earthquakes to strike Afghanistan in recent memory.

Images of the wreckage after buildings collapsed showed enormous piles of trash and rubble. There were also large groups of survivors congregated in the streets.

“The situation is worse than we imagined with people in devastated villages still desperately trying to rescue survivors from under the rubble with their bare hands,” said Thamindri de Silva, national director at World Vision Afghanistan.

Reinforcements from the capital Kabul had arrived to help, de Silva added, “but there was only one hospital and it was at full stretch with serious cases being transferred to other private facilities in the city.”

“Our colleagues and their families are processing this devastation in their hometowns and yet we are responding with everything we have,” de Silva said. “People need urgent medical care, water, food, shelter and help to stay safe.”

Mark Calder, World Vision Afghanistan’s advocacy lead, told CNN that the earthquakes were “yet another devastating episode, after decades of conflict, successive droughts and a collapsed economy.”

Funding from the international community, he added, “has been inadequate.”

“Organizations like ours are able to provide relief and help recovery but without commitment from international governments and donors, more will fall into humanitarian need, displacement will increase and lives will be lost. The world must not look away now.”

According to Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General, UN agencies and partners are continuing to mount emergency operations and send out more personnel to join current humanitarian efforts.

“We are coordinating with the de facto authorities to swiftly assess needs and provide emergency assistance,” Dujarric said.

The international community is urged to “come together and support Afghans impacted by the earthquake – many of whom were already in need before this crisis,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement issued on Sunday.

The children’s fund of the UN, UNICEF, has sent 10,000 hygiene kits, 5,000 family kits, 1,500 sets of blankets and clothing for the winter, 1,000 tarpaulins, and standard home supplies to continuing humanitarian efforts.

Teams are also making more inspections on the ground and supplying overworked medical clinics with tents and emergency medications.

“We will make every effort to bring quick relief to those affected,” said Fran E

On Sunday, Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, reported 2,053 fatalities, 1,240 injuries, and 1,320 fully or partially destroyed homes. But there are concerns that the death toll could increase.

Afghanistan has long been one of Asia’s most impoverished nations and has suffered greatly from war.

Twenty years after being driven from power by US forces, the Taliban seized control in August 2021, leading to the withdrawal of many large relief organizations and NGOs and the suspension of vital humanitarian initiatives.

Following the Taliban takeover, Washington and its allies cut off international assistance, further isolating off Afghanistan from the rest of the world and devastating an already heavily dependent on aid economy.

Regular earthquakes continue to cause major harm to the nation.

More than a thousand people were murdered by a 5.9 magnitude earthquake that struck the Pakistani border districts of Paktika and Khost in June of last year.

The World Bank issued a warning last week, stating that two-thirds of Afghan families presently suffer “significant challenges in maintaining their livelihoods,” making it more difficult for Afghans to recover from the country’s frequent earthquakes.

Only a small number of nations have officially pledged support, despite international aid organizations’ claims that the Taliban takeover severely hinders their ability to respond to pleas during big crises.

China, a neighbor, promised to “do its best to support Afghanistan’s disaster-relief efforts in light of its needs,” according to a statement released by its foreign ministry on Sunday.

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