Thirteen members of the same family are among the more than 1,000 dead of t5.9 magnitude earthquake that shook eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday nightincluding the mother, sisters, and four children of Sawar Khan, one of the survivors of the worst catastrophe in this country in decades.
“I lost thirteen members of my family, including my mother, my sisters, and four of my children. My wife and my daughter are hospitalized in another room,” he told Efe Sawar Khanwith his son Dadullah, while receiving care in a hospital ward in Urgon district, in the Afghan province of Paktika.
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Paktika and Khostin the east of Afghanistan and bordering with the neighbor Pakistanare the two provinces most affected by the magnitude 5.9 earthquake with epicenter in Khost which caused the death of at least 1,030 people and left more than 1,500 injured.
The earthquake surprised people while they slept, with little time to flee outside their flimsy adobe dwellings in these remote mountainous provinces.
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“I was only able to rescue two of my children and my wife, because there was too much dust and debris on the ground,” Khan said lying on a bed, with injuries to his right leg and head, a blow that prevented him from “speaking well.”
More than 24 hours after the catastrophe, Afghanistan continues with the search efforts, hoping to find survivors and recover the bodies of the victims.
In the neighboring district of gayanone of the most affected, many survivors they had to spend the night outdoorswith bonfires and a blanket to combat the cold, while children in groups cried disconsolately.
The shrouded bodies of five minors, or others of several adults, were waiting on cots to be taken by their relatives for the funeral rites. Some survivors walked through the ruins of their dwellings, aimlessly sorting through rubble and beams.
hospitals in the provinces Paktika, Khostand neighboring towns, work to the limit attending to the hundreds of injured in the tragedy, while the families dig the graves for the mass funerals of the victims.
“The number of casualties is expected to rise as rescue teams reach the worst affected villages where people remain trapped in the rubble.”The International Committee of the Red Cross, which is currently providing vital aid to the Asian country, said in a statement today.
Afghanistanwhich was already badly in need of assistance from relief agencieshas been immersed in a humanitarian crisis since the Taliban came to power almost a year ago, a situation made worse by international sanctions.
“This latest earthquake is another horrible tragedy for Afghanistanas if that wasn’t enough. It came against a somber backdrop where more than 50 percent of our people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance,” Afghan Red Crescent Secretary General Mohammad Nabi Burhan said in a statement.
Afghans were already struggling to recover from the wounds and devastation of decades of war, severe drought, floods and extreme economic hardship.
Afghanistan is prone to earthquakes, especially in the area known as the Hindu Kush, which is highly seismically active and is the usual point of origin for telluric movements in the region.
Some of the biggest catastrophes in Afghanistan caused by earthquakes occurred in 1998 in the north of the country, when in February two earthquakes measuring 5.9 and 6 caused the death of some 4,000 people. A few months later, at the end of May, a magnitude 7 earthquake shook the area again, causing some 5,000 deaths.