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AFGHANISTAN EARTHQUAKE LEAVES VILLAGES IN RUINS: CRITICAL AID IS ESSENTIAL



By: Benjamin He


On the day of June 22, 2022, the rural country of Afghanistan was hit by a devastating earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9. Experts estimate that at least 1000 people have died (and warned that that number may increase) and around 1500 injured. Residents assessed the damage and mourned the dead. But no one could deny the fact that they do need critical aid. When the earthquake struck, villages rushed to help one another. Supplies and food are being underway, but the rough landscape of the country makes it hard to traverse, and therefore difficult to bring the supplies. Across the rough terrain, villages made from mud-brick homes dot the hillside. Green sacks of rice spilled out of trucks and stopped to pile them back on. People pushed cars up treacherous paths. A truck even decided to make two journeys by only dropping off half of the food separately for fear that control might be lost.


In the village of Azor Kalai in the Geyan District, the mud-brick houses have been torn to pieces. Citizens live in makeshift tents which they had made as a temporary shelter. Even before the earthquake, most families made just enough to feed their families by selling fruit (apricots, apples, pine nuts, etc.) from forests nearby or simply by working in a bazaar. Many don’t make more than 55 USD a month. Padshah Gul, a laborer, 30, stared at his home, which was once made up of two large bedrooms, and was now a mountain of debris and some makeshift tents for shelter. Their few belongings, like pots and kettles, lay buried under the rubble. The earth had shaken for 15 minutes, and he had stated that it felt like a bomb had exploded. When the shaking stopped, he and his brother rushed into the remains of their home, only to find that his cousin and sister-in-law had died in the earthquake. He and his brother dug into the rubble and rescued over a dozen relatives.


Gulpar Khan and his 20-year-old son were shocked to see the destruction of their village. Mr. Khan ultimately lost 11 family members in the earthquake and mourns for them. “In my whole life I have never experienced anything like this,” he says. Abdul Hanan, age 70, had run home after visiting some relatives and found four of his relatives sitting under a tree, crying. He lost at least 17 family members. “Now there is nothing — our houses are destroyed, we have nothing to eat, nothing to drink, nothing,” he said, quietly wiping away tears.


Now people may be asking: Why was a moderately strong earthquake (magnitude of 5.9) so deadly? What made this one different was that this one stuck in the dead of night, when practically everyone was asleep. During the day, people have more time to reach safe houses or even already be somewhere safe by a stroke of luck. Also, in this part of Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border, many houses are made of materials that are weak in nature, making them even more vulnerable to earthquakes. The geographical location probably made it more destructive as well. The region is seismically active, due to the stress that has been adding up for millions of years as one of the world’s largest crustal plates, the Indian, has collided with another, the Eurasian. That collision’s result sprouted the Himalayan Mountain ranges and its rocky hills. In the earthquake, the earth's faults were shallow that day, about 6 miles deep. At such a depth, there is less material to absorb the energy before it reaches the surface. That means that for a given magnitude, a shallower quake will be more powerful at the surface. Therefore, the terrible earthquake.


The U.S. and U.N. stepped forward to assist Afghanistan in the earthquake on Wednesday. President Biden directed the U.S. Agency for International Development and other parts of the administration to see how they could best help Afghanistan. He had stated that partners of the administration were already delivering things like medical care and such to those on the ground. The South Korean government stated that it would give $1 million worth of assistance to quake victims. The Taliban has stated that they have received more supplies from the air from Iran and Qatar and by land from Pakistan. Despite how the world is seemingly trying to jump up to help Afghanistan, that, unfortunately, is not quite the case. The Biden administration appears to refuse to send direct assistance to Afghanistan because the Taliban took over the country last August. And don’t even get me started on the countries that haven’t even done anything yet. The World still has some heart for each other, in a way of course.


The New York Times

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