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Afghan authorities in struggle to reach earthquake-affected zone

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The Taliban government in Afghanistan said on Thursday that rescue operations have been slow as authorities struggle to reach remote areas hit by Wednesday’s earthquake that killed at least 1,000 people due to the topography of the areas, poor communications and a lack of proper roads hampering their efforts.

The magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck the eastern province of Paktika province early on Wednesday which is about 160km (100 miles) southeast of Kabul, a region steeped in arid mountains dotted with small settlements near the border with Pakistan where over 1,000 were killed and 1,500 injured with about 3,000 homes destroyed.

“We can’t reach the area, the networks are too weak, we trying to get updates,” Mohammad Ismail Muawiyah, a spokesman for a top Taliban military commander in Paktika province told reporters.

So far, only about 600 people have been rescued from various affected areas on Wednesday night, Muawiyah said.

He added that the town of Gayan, close to the epicentre of the quake, sustained significant damage with most of its mud-walled buildings damaged or completely collapsed.

Local media in Paktika say the town is currently bustling with Taliban soldiers and ambulances as a helicopter brings in relief and medical supplies.

Read also:Death toll in Afghan’s powerful earthquake surpasses 1,000

The reports add that the rescue operation will be a major test for the Taliban authorities, who took over the country last August after two decades of war and have been cut off from much international assistance because of sanctions.

Meanwhile, Muawiyah say the Taliban-led ministry of defence is leading rescue efforts as search and rescue operations continue despite the apparent setback.

The quake was Afghanistan’s deadliest in 20 years, with officials saying the casualty toll rate could rise as many of the disaster zones are inaccessible.

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