Aftershocks 'increase Afghan quake toll' over 2000

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
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  • Date: Wed, 27 Mar 2002 07:19:39 -0000

  An Afghan government spokesman points to a map of the quake zone
The region's remoteness is hampering aid efforts

The number of people killed in the earthquake disaster in northern
Afghanistan has risen sharply after fresh aftershocks hit the region on
Wednesday morning, according to the Afghan Government. 


I found all houses flattened 

Helicopter pilot who flew to Nahrin 
Government officials had previously talked of about 2,000 deaths from a
series of earthquakes which flattened the market town of Nahrin and
affected 40 nearby villages in the remote province of Baghlan. 

There is still no access to the remote town of Burqa, 20 kilometres
(12.5 miles) to the north. 

"Casualties have mounted dramatically after new aftershocks early this
morning," Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Gulbuddin told Reuters news

"We think the death toll is now far more than 2,000 and is going to go
up dramatically as we dig through rubble in Nahrin and reach outlying

The United Nations has asked peacekeeping troops to provide aircraft to
fly in emergency aid. 

The French aid agency Acted has said 600 bodies have been brought out of
the rubble so far in Nahrin. 

The quakes began in the Hindu Kush mountains on Monday at about 1930
local time (1500 GMT), rocking the poor and mainly rural region that had
already been devastated by years of war and drought. 

About 20,000 people are said to have been been left homeless in freezing

Aid is being flown and driven into the region, but the aftershocks and
badly-damaged roads are slowing the operation. 

Aid filters through 

A helicopter pilot who flew a team of government officials to Nahrin
said the town of mud-brick houses had been devastated. 

"I found all houses flattened," Mohammed Haroun said. "People have fled
to wherever they can. We are rushing medicine and supplies as well as
shrouds for the dead to the area." 

The BBC's Kate Clark says tents were distributed throughout the night
and a rapid relief effort has meant blankets, food and medicine have all
arrived in the area. 

Nahrin now has a field clinic. Doctors said the most common injuries
were broken bones but that they had also evacuated some critical cases. 

Recent Afghan quakes 

3 March 2002: 70 killed in northern province of Samangan 
May 1998: 5,000 killed in northern provinces of Takhar and Badakhshan 
February 1998: 4,500 killed in Takhar 
Witnesses have reported survivors scrabbling with their bare hands to
reach those trapped underneath collapsed buildings. 

A UN spokesman said adobe homes offered little protection against the
earthquake but the rubble was easier to search for survivors. 

Russia is sending rescue teams to the region, and American aid workers
stationed in Afghanistan have teamed up with other agencies to provide
food, medicines, tents and blankets. 

"We already have some supplies going into the region, and we're doing
the assessments on what more is needed," said US State Department
spokesman Richard Boucher. 

"Because we have been doing so much in Afghanistan in terms of food
relief and non-food relief, we have sufficient supplies on hand to take
care of people in this affected area." 

 fault line in northern Afghanistan

Earthquakes have scarred the landscape of the area

The British-led international security force (ISAF) in the Afghan
capital, Kabul, despatched a Chinook helicopter to Nahrin on Tuesday. 

The helicopter carried reconnaissance teams from ISAF itself, aid
agencies, Britain's international development department and
representatives of Afghanistan's interim authority. 

It also transported a tonne of emergency medical kits from the United
Nations World Health Organisation to the quake zone. 

A British Defence Ministry spokesman said the force was on standby to
offer assistance, but had yet to receive a formal request from the
interim government. 

Source: BBC online

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