Quake to worsen Afghanistan’s economic woes; Modi vows help


KABUL: The calamitous earthquake in the eastern Afghan province of Paktika, which has killed at least 1,000 people, forced Taliban’s reclusive supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, who almost never appears in public, to seek international help. Akhundzada called for “the international community and all humanitarian organisations to help the Afghan people affected by this great tragedy and to spare no effort to help the affected people”. “We ask God to save our poor people from trials and harm,” he said in a statement put out by the Taliban spokesman.
The disaster poses a major test for Afghanistan’s Taliban government, which seized power nearly 10 months ago and has been largely shunned by the world community since. The disaster only compounds the woes in Afghanistan, which is already deep in one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with millions facing increasing hunger and poverty after the cutoff of international financing to the Taliban.
In Kabul, PM Mohammad Hassan Akhund convened an emergency meeting at the presidential palace. “When such a big incident happens in any country, there is a need for help from other countries,” said Sharafuddin Muslim, deputy minister of state for disaster management. “It is very difficult for us to be able to respond to this huge incident.” “The death toll is likely to rise as some of the villages are in remote areas in the mountains and it will take time to collect details,” interior ministry official Salahuddin Ayubi said.
Expressing anguish at the loss of lives and devastation caused by the earthquake, PM Modi tweeted that India is ready to provide “all possible disaster relief material at the earliest”. Several countries, including neighbouring Pakistan and Iran said they were sending humanitarian aid including food and medicine. The UN said assessment teams have been sent to affected areas; EU said it was monitoring the situation and stands ready to send emergency assistance.
Some images showed residents picking through clay bricks and other rubble from destroyed stone houses. “Many people are still buried under the soil,” a health worker at one of Paktika’s main hospitals said, asking for anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media. The extent of the destruction among the villages tucked among mountains was still not known. The UN estimated that at least 2,000 homes have been destroyed.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here