On Thursday, Hawa and her daughter Safia were at the Sharana hospital in Afghanistan’s Paktika province. Credit… for Kiana Hayeri
Afghanistan’s Sharana On Thursday, a mother lay in a hospital bed in this eastern city with her 1-year-old daughter sleeping next to her in a rumpled purple frock as chances of finding more survivors of Afghanistan’s biggest earthquake in decades dimmed.
Their mud brick house collapsed when the magnitude 5.9 quake struck early on Wednesday morning, and Hawa, 30, woke up choking on dust. She could feel her daughter’s chest barely moving beneath her hand.
The earthquake turned the rocky, windswept area close to the Pakistani border into a tableau of death and grief, but Hawa’s other four children and 17 other relatives perished in the catastrophe.
Officials reported that rescue attempts were slowing down, leaving little prospect of finding further survivors even as the extent of the damage was only starting to become known and the first Taliban government assistance helicopters were carrying food and relief supplies to hard-hit areas. The focus shifted to helping the injured and housing those who were left homeless due to a calamity that is estimated to have killed more than 1,000 people.
Aid efforts were particularly tough because of the rough terrain and extreme poverty in the southeast of Afghanistan. Some locals live in houses made of clay and straw, and it’s thought that the earthquake nearly wiped out entire towns. Many others were pounded by rain, wind, and even snow as they spent the night in unusually frigid temperatures.
Despite the 5.9-magnitude earthquake’s core being roughly 28 miles to the southwest, the United States Geological Survey reported that Paktika Province looked to sustain the most damage.
According to Sanaullah Masoum, a spokeswoman for the provincial governor in Paktika, “Relief agencies’ support includes health assistance, food, tents, and blankets, but the crisis is widespread in the area and is not enough.” “We demand more food, medical, and humanitarian relief from the aid organizations.”
The Taliban government reported that some supplies had arrived in the nation, notably by air from Iran and Qatar and by land from Pakistan. Eight truckloads of cargo from Pakistan were transferred to the afflicted districts, according to Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban leadership. He also stated that additional supplies had arrived in Kabul, the country’s capital, and would soon be transported to the earthquake zone.
There aren’t many hospitals or clinics nearby that could treat the injured. According to the state news agency, the Afghan Defense Ministry dispatched seven helicopters as well as a medical team to carry the injured to military and civilian hospitals. According to Dr. Hikmatullah Esmat, the Paktika Province’s director of public health, on Wednesday, over 70 patients were brought for treatment to the hospital in Sharana, the provincial capital.
Hawa and Safia were among them. Speaking through sobs, Hawa claimed that the earthquake in their village in the Gayan district killed her three boys, another daughter, and 17 other relatives.
Hawa could make out her father struggling in vain to lift blocks that had fallen and buried other family members through dust clouds and darkness. Unable to move them, he went toward the village’s center while yelling for assistance.
She said from her hospital bed, “I didn’t expect to survive. She stayed there for five hours, supporting her left palm on the bricks to prevent Safia from being crushed.
Residents of neighbouring towns started streaming into the region to try to aid five hours later as day broke and a torrential rain pounded down on what was left of the town.
Hawa replied, her eyes filled with tears, “I lost everything, my whole life, my whole family, and I don’t have any hope for the future.” “There’s no one to take care of us, to get money or food for us now. I wish I had lost everything, that we had all died.”
The rescue effort in Paktika, according to Mr. Masoum, was completed on Wednesday night. According to local Afghan authorities, search and rescue operations in the affected areas are 90% complete, and aid organizations are now concentrating on giving survivors shelter and care, according to Isabelle Moussard Carlsen, head of the Afghanistan office of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The rising temperatures on Thursday caused some individuals to worry that after enduring a bitterly cold night, they would soon be left outside in the sweltering heat, according to Ms. Carlsen. Diseases could spread in the upcoming days and weeks as a result of poor sanitation and access to clean drinking water, she warned.
She said, “There are layers and layers of things that make it worse.” “These communities will take a very long time to recover after the urgent life-saving response. In the area, vulnerability levels were already very high.
Pray for Afghanistan