“When such a big incident happens in any country, there is a need for help from other countries. It is very difficult for us to be able to respond to this huge incident,” Sharafuddin Muslim, Taliban’s deputy minister of state for disaster management, said.
There are fears that rescue and aid efforts could be complicated due to the lack of formal government under the Taliban and the unceremonious dumping of the country by the west.
The earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale reduced houses to rubble in Paktika province in Afghanistan on Wednesday and hundreds of dead bodies lay on the ground covered in dust.
On Thursday, Afghan authorities struggled to reach remote areas hit by the earthquake. Poor communications and lack of proper roads further hampered rescue efforts, Reuters reported.
“We can’t reach the area, the networks are too weak, we [are] trying to get updates,” Mohammad Ismail Muawiyah, a spokesperson for the top Taliban military commander in Paktika province said.
According to the US Geological Survey, the devastating earthquake struck about 44km from the city of Khost in southeastern Afghanistan at a depth of 51km.
Mohammad Nassim Haqqani, the head of the Taliban administration’s natural disaster ministry had said that the majority of deaths were in the province of Paktika.
Interior ministry official Salahuddin Ayubi said the death toll was likely to rise as “some of the villages are in remote areas in the mountains and it will take some time to collect details”.
Bilal Karimi, a deputy spokesperson for the Taliban government, wrote on Twitter: “A severe earthquake shook four districts of Paktika province, killing and injuring hundreds of our countrymen and destroying dozens of houses. We urge all aid agencies to send teams to the area immediately to prevent further catastrophe.”
Another senior Taliban official, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, said the government was “financially unable to assist the people to the extent that is needed”.
He added: “The assistance needs to be scaled up to a very large extent because this is a devastating earthquake which hasn’t been experienced in decades.”