Afghan authorities scramble to reach earthquake zone, toll at 1,000 dead

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KABUL – Afghan authorities struggled to reach a distant district devastated by an earthquake that killed 1,000 people on Thursday, but officials claimed poor communications and a lack of decent roads hampered their efforts.

The magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck around 160 kilometers southeast of Kabul, in dry foothills scattered with small communities near the Pakistani border.

“We can’t reach the area because the networks are too weak, and we’re trying to obtain updates,” Mohammad Ismail Muawiyah, a spokesperson for the top Taliban military commander in the hardest-hit Paktika province, told Reuters, referring to telephone networks.

According to him, the earthquake killed 1,000 people and injured 1,500 more. Over 3,000 homes were destroyed.

On Wednesday night, some 600 individuals were rescued from various impacted districts, he added.

The rescue attempt will be a big test for the country’s hardline Islamist Taliban leadership, who seized charge in August after two decades of conflict and have been cut off from much Western aid due to sanctions.

Rescue efforts are being led by the Taliban-run Ministry of Defense.
In the hours following the earthquake, Afghan media aired images of houses reduced to rubble and bodies swathed in blankets on the ground.

From distant mountain settlements, accurate information has been scarce.

Because the Indian plate is pushing north towards the Eurasian plate, large regions of South Asia are seismically active.

An earthquake devastated the distant Afghan northeast in 2015, killing hundreds of people in Afghanistan and neighbouring northern Pakistan.

Source: Reuters

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