Afghanistan: Deadliest earthquake in 20 years
Late on Tuesday evening, a powerful earthquake hit the Afghan-Pakistan border region, leaving at least 1000 people dead. Rescue efforts in the remote mountainous terrain are proving difficult. By Ines Eisele
Reduced to rubble: according to the Taliban government in Kabul, the devastating earthquake has left at least 1000 people dead and 600 injured in the eastern provinces of Paktika and Khost. The death toll could rise significantly in the coming days, as some villages are very remote and there is still little information available to the authorities
"Mass graves are being dug": residents of Paktika province rescue injured people from the rubble. A man named Kowsar, who lost his father, said on the phone: "It was 1 am when we woke up to strong tremors. Everything was buried under dust." Mass graves were being dug and bodies buried in them, he explains. And, "We desperately need food and shelter"
Rescue under difficult conditions: several helicopters have been sent to the disaster region to help people. However, Afghanistan has only a few functioning planes and helicopters and organising rapid disaster relief is difficult in the crisis-ridden country. In addition, the east of the country on the border with Pakistan is remote and mountainous, which makes rescue work even more difficult
Challenge for the Taliban: Red Crescent workers on the ground – the militant Islamist Taliban, who seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021, have appealed to aid agencies for support "to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe". The rescue operation could prove to be an important test for the Taliban regime, which is cut off from much international aid because of sanctions
Deadly combination: large parts of South Asia are seismically active because two tectonic plates, the Indian and the Eurasian, meet there. Earthquakes are therefore not uncommon in Afghanistan and especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range. Because many Afghan houses are poorly built, the damage is often devastating
Pakistan looks to help: an ambulance at the house of a family in the Afghan-Pakistani border region. The tremors of the earthquake were also felt in large parts of neighbouring Pakistan, but there were no immediate reports of damage or fatalities. Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his dismay on the Internet and held out the prospect of providing help to the Afghans