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Taliban appeal to UN for aid after Afghan earthquake kills 1,000

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Taliban appeal to UN for aid after Afghan earthquake kills 1,000
An injured victim of the earthquake receives treatment at a hospital in Paktia, Afghanistan, 22 June 2022. More than 1,000 people were killed and over 1,500 others injured after a 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit eastern Afghanistan before dawn on 22 June, Afghanistan's state-run Bakhtar News Agency reported. According to authorities the death toll is likely to rise. EPA-EFE/STRINGER -- BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE --

June 22 (UPI) -- The Taliban is appealing for international aid after Afghanistan was hit by a 5.9-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 1,000 people and injured 1,500 others.

The quake struck early Wednesday about 28 miles southwest of Khost near the Pakistan border and was felt as far away as India. It was followed by a smaller quake measuring 4.5-magnitude.

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Paktika province in the southeast was the hardest hit with rescue efforts being hampered by heavy rain and hail.

It is the deadliest earthquake to strike Afghanistan in two decades and comes less than a year after the Taliban regained power following the collapse of the Western-backed government.

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On Wednesday, Taliban officials asked the United Nations to "support them in terms of assessing the needs and responding to those affected," Sam Mort from Unicef's Kabul unit told the BBC.

Britain's special representative to Afghanistan, Nigel Casey, said the UK was in touch with the U.N. and was "ready to contribute to the international response."

Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov, United Nations special representative to Afghanistan, tweeted that the U.N. is "assessing the aftermath" and offered condolences to the families of the victims.

"The situation is quite critical," Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi told NBC News. "Hundreds of houses are collapsed and we expect heavy human losses and serious damage to the infrastructure."

"The government sadly is under sanctions so it is financially unable to assist the people to the extent that is needed," said Abdul Qahar Balkhi, a senior Taliban official.

Before the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan's emergency services were already stretched with few helicopters available to help rescue victims. There is also a shortage of medical supplies.

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A journalist in the quake zone said communication after the quake has been difficult because of damage to mobile phone towers which could elevate the death toll even more, according to the BBC.

"Many people are not aware of the well-being of their relatives because their phones are not working," he said. "My brother and his family died, and I just learned it after many hours. Many villages have been destroyed."

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