Fri | Aug 12, 2022

Aftershock in Afghanistan as quake toll rises to 1,150 dead

Published:Friday | June 24, 2022 | 11:16 AM
A man stands among destruction after an earthquake in Gayan village, in Paktika province, Afghanistan, Thursday, June 23, 2022. A powerful earthquake struck a rugged, mountainous region of eastern Afghanistan early Wednesday, flattening stone and mud-brick homes in the country's deadliest quake in two decades, the state-run news agency reported. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Nooroozi)

GAYAN, Afghanistan (AP) — An aftershock took more lives Friday and threatened to pile even more misery on an area of eastern Afghanistan reeling from a powerful earthquake that state media said killed 1,150 people this week.

Among the dead from Wednesday's magnitude 6 quake are 121 children, but that figure is expected to climb, said Mohamed Ayoya, UNICEF's representative in Afghanistan. He said close to 70 children were injured.

That earthquake struck a remote, mountainous region already grappling with staggering poverty at a time when the country as a whole is spiralling deeper into economic crisis after many countries pulled back critical financing and development aid in the wake of the Taliban's takeover.

On Friday, Pakistan's Meteorological Department reported a new, 4.2 magnitude quake that state-run Bakhtar News Agency reported took five more lives in hard-hit Gayan District and injured 11 people.

International aid had been keeping the country afloat, and its withdrawal left millions unable to afford food and further strained already struggling medical facilities.

Nearly half the population of 38 million cannot meet their basic food needs, while some civil servants, like doctors, nurses and teachers, weren't paid for months because the Taliban government is unable to access frozen foreign reserves.

Salary delays continue throughout the public sector.

Afghanistan's international isolation is also complicating relief efforts since fewer aid organisations have a presence in the country, and international sanctions on Afghan banks make it difficult to send cash into the country. Despite waivers from the US Treasury Department that allow money to be sent to aid groups, banks are hesitant to handle such transactions for fear of running afoul of rules anyway.

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