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Afghans Struggle to Survive 5.9 Magnitude Earthquake

By: Felicia Chen

An hour past midnight on Wednesday, June 22, the people of Afghanistan were awoken by a rocking movement. An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.9 had struck the country, causing chaos everywhere.

This was one of the nation’s deadliest earth tremors seen in almost two decades.

The quake was centered approximately 28 miles southwest of the city Khost along the Pakistan border, where the majority of the houses are built from masonry or even mud. New York Times journalists Christina Goldbaum, Safiullah Padshah and Kiana Hayeri wrote: “These materials break easily when subject to tension, the pulling-apart forces that occur when they are shaken and flexed repeatedly in an earthquake. Houses made of wood, steel or steel-reinforced masonry are generally more capable of withstanding these shaking forces.”

The death toll caused by this catastrophe is estimated to be more than 1,000 people, and at least 1,500 Afghans are injured and have been left with no place to stay “in Gayan and Barmal districts of Paktika province alone,” Mohammad Amin Hozaifa, the head of Paktika province’s information and culture department, reported.

The entire village of Gayan had been wiped out, leaving houses made from straw and clay completely demolished. Thousands of residents now reside outdoors during glacially cold nights with heavy rain, wind and even snow.

Since the Taliban seized power back in August of 2021, the Biden administration and its allies cut off the country’s access to $7 billion of international funding. In a CNN article, Masoud Popalzai, Jessie Yeung, Ehsan Popalzai and Tara John wrote: “The situation has crippled an economy already heavily dependent on aid. Following the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, its economy has gone into freefall with the World Bank forecasting in April that a ‘combination of declining incomes and increasing prices has driven a severe deterioration in household living standards.’”

Additionally, the United Nations informed Afghans on Thursday that there was a high risk of exposing oneself to cholera, an infectious bacterial disease that collects in contaminated water and infects those who drink it. This outbreak has already caused at least 770 deaths in Afghanistan.

“A destruction of such scale, plus rain, and lack of sanitation could lead to the spread of waterborne diseases,” said Ramiz Alakbarov, the U.N. resident coordinator in Afghanistan. “It would be a very, very unwelcome scenario.”



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