What do we know about the earthquake in Afghanistan and why is the region so vulnerable?

More than 1,000 people have died after a magnitude 6.1 earthquake shook a city in Afghanistan yesterday.

It was the deadliest earthquake in the country since 2002.

The top Taliban leader has called for international help, but what help is there?

What do we know about where it hit?

A line map of Afghanistan showing the location of an earthquake north of Paktika to the east.
Most of the deaths were in Paktika, but the surrounding provinces were also hit by the quake.

The quake affected Paktika province, about 40 miles (44 kilometers) southeast of Khost near the border with Pakistan, the US Geological Survey said.

Experts estimate that its depth is only 10 kilometers. Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage.

See what else we know about the disaster that struck the rural, mountainous area:

  • In addition to the more than 1,000 people killed, there are reports of another 1,500 injured
  • At least 2,000 houses have been destroyed. According to the UN representative for Afghanistan, an average household has seven or eight people living in it
  • The houses are usually made of stone and brick
  • The recent rains in the area have caused landslides and made access difficult
  • The quake-hit province had a population of about 775,000 in 2020, according to the European Asylum Service.
  • The quake was felt 500 kilometers away by 119 million people in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, according to the European Seismological Organization.
Satellite ground
The Barmal area in Paktika province was one of the places affected by the earthquake.(Map Data: Google ©2022 CNES / Airbus, Maxar Technologies)

What was the experience like on the ground?

Resident of Shamira is in the hospital with her one-year-old grandson, who is being treated after being hit in the head by a piece of debris. They are among the thousands of people who have lost their homes and need help.

Resident Gul Faraz received treatment for injuries along with his wife and children at a Pakti hospital. He said some family members were killed.

Resident of Firdaus Khan told ABC that the only public hospital in the province had been flooded by quake victims.

Resident of Dalil Khan said thousands of homes had been destroyed.

ONE working in a hospital in the province of Paktika said rescue efforts are ongoing.

Tailor Rouh Oula based in Kabul said he was injured and worried about family members in the area.

Medical Assistance Director Stefano Sozza, The country’s director for Afghanistan for the Italian emergency medical team said the team had sent seven ambulances and personnel to areas close to the quake zone.

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At least 1,000 dead in Afghanistan quake

Why is Afghanistan so vulnerable to earthquakes?

This will be the seventh earthquake to kill more than 100 people since 1991, and it is the deadliest in two decades.

The country has a long history of earthquakes, many in the Hindu Kush mountain range bordering Pakistan.

Afghanistan is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because of the tectonic plates of Eurasia, Arabia and India.

It is also located in the Alpine zone, which is an area of ​​mountain ranges that is prone to earthquakes.

The death toll has been exacerbated by the remote locations of many earthquakes and decades of war that have left infrastructure in dangerous conditions.

An image provided by Afghanistan's state news agency shows residents investigating the quake.
The UN says Turkey is ready to offer assistance to Afghanistan.

Here are the latest deadly earthquakes that have occurred in Afghanistan:

  • 1997, Qayen – More than 1,500 killed in Iran and Afghanistan
  • 1998, Takhar – at least 2,300 people are killed with some estimates putting the death toll at up to 4,000
  • 1998, Takhar – 4,700 dead in the same area just three months later
  • 2002, Hindu Kush twin earthquakes – 1,100 people killed
  • 2015, Hindu Kush – 399 people killed in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan and India.

How did the Taliban react?

The disaster has set a new test for Taliban leaders and Afghan aid workers already battling the country’s multiple humanitarian crises.

The supreme leader of the Taliban, Haibatullah Akhundzadah, who almost never appears in public, has called on the international community and humanitarian organizations “to help the Afghan people affected by this great tragedy and to spare no effort.”

An Afghan receives help from the Red Cross
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has provided assistance.(Reuters: Parwiz)

Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN deputy special envoy to Afghanistan, said the Taliban had not formally asked the UN to mobilize international search and rescue teams or to obtain equipment from neighboring countries to complement the dozens of ambulances and helicopters. principles.

However, officials from several UN agencies said the Taliban had given them full access to the area.

Humanitarian services still operating in the country, including UNICEF, rushed supplies to the quake-hit areas.

How did other countries react?

Pakistan said it would send food, tents, blankets and other basic necessities and India also showed up and said it would help.

The State Department, meanwhile, said it was unaware of any request for US assistance from the Afghan Taliban government following the quake.

The United States expects a humanitarian response to the disaster to be the subject of discussion between the Taliban and US officials in the coming days, State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong described the disaster as “heartbreaking”, acknowledging that the local Afghan community has lost many relatives and loved ones.

Senator Wong says Australia will work with partner nations to respond to the humanitarian emergency.

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The Taliban are calling for international support in the wake of the devastating earthquake

The Norwegian director of the Norwegian Refugee Council in Afghanistan, Neil Turner, said the team was already assessing the damage in the province of Host, near the epicenter.

ABC / cables

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