Many children feared dead in Afghan quake

Doctors in Afghanistan have told the BBC that many children may have been killed in Wednesday’s earthquake.

More than 1,000 people died in the disaster, and heavy rain, threadbare resources and rugged terrain were hampering rescue workers.

Unknown numbers were buried in the rubble of ruined, often mud-built homes by the magnitude 6.1 earthquake.

One woman in hospital in Paktika province told reporters she had lost 19 family members.

“Seven in one room, five in another, four in another, then three in another, have all been killed in my family,” she said from her bed.

By Wednesday night, Taliban officials said search and rescue operations had finished in most places, although in remoter areas some continued still.

“We can’t reach the area – networks are too weak,” a Taliban spokesman was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying earlier.

The United Nations was among those scrambling to provide emergency shelter and food aid to remote areas in Paktika.

Survivors and rescuers have told the BBC of villages completely destroyed near the epicentre of the quake, of ruined roads and mobile phone towers – and of their fears that the death toll will rise further. Some 1,500 people were also injured, officials said.

The Taliban authorities have called for more international aid.

Most of the casualties found so far have been in the Gayan and Barmal districts of Paktika. Locals reported dozens of villages collapsed.

“There was a rumbling and my bed began to shake,” a survivor called Shabir told the BBC.

“The ceiling fell down. I was trapped, but I could see the sky. My shoulder was dislocated, my head was hurt but I got out. I am sure that seven or nine people from my family, who were in the same room as me, are dead.”

A mother of six who was badly injured in the earthquake told the BBC many in her village had been killed, including seven of her own family members.

“We are very poor. We cannot reconstruct our homes again,” she said. “We have nothing to eat.”

All her family’s food supplies were buried under the rubble.

“There is nowhere to go,” she added. “I demand the Taliban rebuild our houses.”  -Reuters/BBC

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