Afghanistan's Taliban rulers plead for aid

June 23, 2022 10:20 am

The earthquake struck in the middle of the night, catching many Afghans in their beds and leaving a growing death toll. [Source: abc NEWS]

The disaster posed a new test for Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers and relief agencies already struggling with the country’s multiple humanitarian crises.

Officials said the quake was Afghanistan’s deadliest in two decades, and its death toll could rise.

An estimated 1,500 other people were reported injured, the state-run news agency said.

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The disaster heaps more misery on a country where millions face increasing hunger and poverty and a health system that has been crumbling since the Taliban retook power nearly 10 months ago.

That takeover led to a cutting-off of vital international financing, and most of the world has since shunned the Taliban government.

The Taliban’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzadah — who almost never appears in public — pleaded with the international community and humanitarian organisations “to help the Afghan people affected by this great tragedy and to spare no effort”.

Residents in the remote area near the Pakistani border searched for victims, dead or alive, by digging with their bare hands through the rubble, according to footage shown by the Bakhtar news agency.

At least 2,000 homes were destroyed in the region where, on average, every household has seven or eight people living in it, said the UN’s deputy special representative to Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov.