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Taliban begs for international aid after devastating earthquake kills over 1,000

The 6.1-magnitude earthquake destroyed at least 2,000 homes and villages have been left flattened, and about 1,500 people were left injured after it struck the province of Paktika on Tuesday night

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Afghanistan earthquake: People flee as strong earthquake hits country

The Taliban has appealed for international aid after an earthquake killed over 1,000 people and devastated Afghanistan.

The 6.1-magnitude earthquake destroyed at least 2,000 homes and villages have been left flattened.

About 1,500 people have been injured in the earthquake when it struck the province of Paktika in Afghanistan on Tuesday night.

Haibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban’s supreme leader, has called on international NGOs to “spare no effort” to help.

Images from the country show homes reduced to rubble and bodies wrapped in blankets on the ground.

The United Nations is urgently working to set up an emergency shelter and get aid to the scene as it fears the death toll will continue to rise.

People affected by earthquake wait for relief in Gayan village in Paktia province
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The Taliban took over the country last year – further complicating getting relief efforts.

The international community has largely left Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover of the country last year, which will likely complicate any relief efforts for this country of 38million.

Mounting a rescue operation could prove a major test for the Taliban, who took over the country in August and have been cut off from much international assistance because of sanctions.

Footage from Paktika province near the Pakistan border showed victims being carried into helicopters to be airlifted from the area.

An armed man looks walks by as an ambulance shifts victims of an earthquake in Afghanistan
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Images widely circulating online from the province showed destroyed stone houses, with residents picking through clay bricks and other rubble.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said humanitarian partners were preparing to assist affected families in coordination with the Taliban authorities.

It said: “Immediate needs identified include emergency trauma care, emergency shelter and non-food items, food assistance and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) support.

A child carrying utensils on her heads walks past damaged houses
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“Given the unseasonable, heavy rains and cold, emergency shelter is an immediate priority.”

Five helicopters were dispatched to the region as well as a medical team.

OCHA said: “Although search and rescue efforts are ongoing, heavy rain and wind are hampering efforts with helicopters reportedly unable to land this afternoon.

“The number of casualties is expected to rise as search and rescue operations are ongoing.

Afghans warm themselves round a fire outside their home destroyed after an earthquake
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“Humanitarian search and rescue teams… are on standby to deploy as needed.”

UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, has also deployed at least 12 teams of health workers as well as several mobile health, OCHA said.

After the Taliban takeover, many governments imposed sanctions and cut development aid – but this doesn’t include humanitarian aid.

The last severe earthquake to hit the country was in 2015 and killed several hundred people.

In 2002, another 6.1-magnitude earthquake in Afghanistan’s remote northeast killed at least 4,500 people.

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