URGON, Afghanistan – Thirteen members of the same family are among the more than 1,000 dead in the 5.9-magnitude earthquake that struck eastern Afghanistan Tuesday night, including 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 daughter are hospitalized in another room,” Sawar Khan, along with his son Dadullah, told Efe while receiving care. in a hospital room in Urgon district, in the Afghan province of Paktika.
Paktika and Khost, in eastern Afghanistan and bordering neighboring Pakistan, are the two provinces most affected by the 5.9-magnitude earthquake with its epicenter in Khost, which killed at least 1,030 people and left more than 1,500 injured.
The quake caught people in their sleep, with little time to flee outside their flimsy adobe homes in these remote mountainous provinces.
“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.” “.
After more than 24 hours of the catastrophe, Afghanistan continues with the search efforts, with the hope of finding survivors and recovering the bodies of the victims.
In the neighboring district of Gayan, one of the most affected, many survivors had to spend the night outdoors, with fires and a blanket to combat the cold, while children in groups cried inconsolably.
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 were scouring the ruins of their homes, aimlessly sorting through rubble and beams.
According to experts, some portions of the San Andreas fault have not released stress for a long time, and the only way to do so is through an earthquake, however, it is impossible to predict when that will happen.
Hospitals in the provinces of Paktika, Khost, and neighboring towns, are working to the limit treating the hundreds of injured in the tragedy, while families dig the graves for the mass funerals of the victims.
“The number of victims 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 lending, said today in a statement. vital aid to the Asian country.
Afghanistan, already badly in need of aid from relief agencies, has been mired in a humanitarian crisis since the Taliban came to power nearly a year ago, a situation made worse by international sanctions.
“This latest earthquake is another horrible tragedy for Afghanistan, as if that were not enough. It occurred in a bleak context in which more than 50 percent of our people urgently need humanitarian assistance,” the secretary general of the Media said in a statement. Afghan Red Moon, Mohammad Nabi Burhan.
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.