Afghanistan hit by deadliest earthquake in two decades, over 1,000 killed

The 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck the provinces of Paktika and Khost. The death toll is expected to rise in the coming days

June 22, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Afghanistan earthquake
(Photo: Bakhtar News Agency)

A massive earthquake of 6.0 magnitude has killed over 1,000 people in eastern Afghanistan and injured over 1,500, triggering an emergency in the country. On Wednesday, June 22, the Taliban administration’s disaster management officials confirmed that the earthquake occurred around 1:30 am and has rendered thousands of Afghans homeless in Paktika and Khost after their houses were partially or totally damaged. 

The earthquake, which struck about 44 km from the south-eastern city of Khost, has been termed as the deadliest in two decades. Its tremors were felt in places 500 km away. The death toll is expected to rise considering the remoteness of the region and the mountainous terrain. 

Massive casualties and damage are reported especially from Gayan, Naka, Barmal and Zaroki districts of Paktika province. At least 90 houses were damaged in Gayan, Bakhtar News Agency reported. Local news outlet Etilaat-e Roz reported that a whole village in Gayan has been destroyed. 

Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said that an emergency cabinet meeting was held to discuss ways to provide assistance to the people affected by the earthquake. The UN office for humanitarian affairs in Afghanistan tweeted that “Inter-agency assessment teams have already been deployed to a number of affected areas.”

The graphic visuals of the aftermath of the earthquake showed civilians being rescued using helicopters from the rubble of damaged houses. A number of images posted on social media showed bodies being retrieved wrapped in blankets. 

The extent of the damage is yet to be ascertained and the number of dead may increase in the coming days. The sanctions imposed by the US have already had a devastating impact on the local population and the earthquake is likely to worsen the humanitarian crisis in the war-ridden country.   

UNICEF, in a statement, said that it had “dispatched several mobile health and nutrition teams to provide first aid to those who are injured.”

“Every street you go, you hear people mourning the deaths of their beloved ones. Houses are ruined,” a local journalist was quoted as saying by BBC