Cargo planes from Pakistan and Qatar carrying relief material for Afghan earthquake survivors have landed at the Khost airport, officials said on Saturday, as rescuers struggle to deliver aid to remote regions in the wake of Wednesday’s devastating earthquake.
Thousands have been left homeless or injured by the magnitude 5.9 earthquake in Paktika and Khost provinces, which state media said killed 1,150 people. An aftershock on Friday took five more lives.
The United Nations children’s agency representative in Afghanistan said 121 children were among those killed and that figure was expected to climb.
Authorities have now ended the search for survivors from the earthquake that also wounded nearly 2,000 people in what is being billed as the deadliest disaster in nearly two decades.
People in Paktika province have been desperate for food, shelter and drinking water, as humanitarian aid slowed down due to poor infrastructure as well as diplomatic and financial isolation of the Afghan government led by the Taliban.
Survivor Dawlat Khan in the district of Gayan in Paktika province said five members of his family were injured and his house was destroyed in the earthquake.
“We are facing many problems. We need all kind of support, and we request the international community and Afghans who can help to come forward and help us,” he said.
Mansoor Ahmad Khan, Pakistan’s ambassador in the Afghan capital of Kabul, said relief goods dispatched by Pakistan on Saturday were handed over to Taliban officials.
“It was our duty to help our Afghan brethren at this difficult time,” he said.
Overstretched aid agencies said the disaster underscored the need for the international community to rethink its financial cut-off of Afghanistan since the Taliban seized the country 10 months ago when US-led forces withdrew after 20 years of war and occupation.
That policy, halting billions in development aid and freezing vital reserves, has pushed the aid-dependent economy into collapse and plunged Afghanistan deeper into humanitarian crises and near famine. Nearly 75 percent of the Afghan economy was supported by foreign aid before the Taliban takeover.