State Department expects US and Taliban to discuss humanitarian response to Afghan earthquake
From CNN's Jennifer Hansler
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said he was "not aware of any request for assistance that the United States government has received from the Taliban."
Price said he expected the response to the earthquake "will be a topic of conversation between US officials and Taliban officials in the coming days" but was not aware that such conversations had taken place yet.
Price reiterated that the US is in touch with humanitarian partners.
3:19 p.m. ET, June 22, 2022
Blinken: US "expresses deep sorrow for the victims" of Afghanistan earthquake
From CNN's Jennifer Hansler
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken offered a statement of sympathy for those impacted by the deadly earthquake in Afghanistan.
The US "expresses deep sorrow for the victims of today’s devastating earthquake in Afghanistan, and we offer our sympathy and prayers to those who lost loved ones in the tragedy," he said.
"The people of Afghanistan have undergone extraordinary hardship, and this natural disaster compounds an already dire humanitarian situation," Blinken said in a statement. "U.S. humanitarian partners are already responding, including by sending medical teams to help people affected, and we are assessing other response options," he said.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said they are working to see if any US citizens were affected by the devastating earthquake which has killed more than 1,000 people but was not aware of any at this time.
1:17 p.m. ET, June 22, 2022
Afghanistan's government commits 100 million Afghanis in aid to earthquake victims
From CNN's Ehsan Popalzai and Aliza Kassim
The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has allotted emergency funding of 100 million Afghanis ($1,123,595.50) to earthquake victims, according to Afghanistan’s state-news agency Bakhtar.
Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhand "dedicated 100 million Afghanis to urgently addressing the families situation of Tuesday’s night," in the provinces of Paktika, Khost and other provinces affected by the earthquake, Bakhtar reported.
Afghanistan was rocked by its deadliest earthquake in decades when a magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck the country's east, killing more than 1,000 people on Wednesday local time.
1:05 p.m. ET, June 22, 2022
Wind and heavy rain affects Afghanistan’s earthquake search and rescue mission, UN agency says
From CNN's Masoud Popalzai and Aliza Kassim
Heavy rain and wind is "hampering efforts with helicopters reportedly unable to land this afternoon" while search and rescue efforts along with immediate assistance measures are underway in Afghanistan's earthquake ravaged provinces, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in Afghanistan.
Despite environmental factors, humanitarian agencies under the leadership of the country's ministry of defense have dispatched “eight ambulances and a team of doctors to Paktika," according to the UNOCHA statement.
The statement also includes the following details:
Gayan district in Paktika province is reportedly the worst affected.
Up to 200 people killed and 100 people injured, many of them seriously.
Up to 1,800 homes have reportedly been destroyed and damaged in Gayan district, which, it says, makes up 70% of the district’s housing.
Casualties from the earthquake-affected districts are being transferred to Sharan, Paktika and Urgun hospitals.
Humanitarian agencies have been providing emergency assistance and have thus far deployed "14 mobile health teams to Paktika province and four to Khost province," it added.
The UN office has highlighted the need for emergency trauma care, emergency shelter among other food and non-food items.
12:46 p.m. ET, June 22, 2022
World Health Organization says Afghanistan earthquake death toll could rise to more than 1,000
From CNN’s Adam Pourahmadi in Abu Dhabi
The death toll from the earthquake in Afghanistan is still rising and may exceed 1,000, according to the World Health Organization, with more than 1,000 injured people being transferred to different hospitals in the region
“All of the resources have been mobilized, not just from the nearby provinces but also from Kabul, including medical supplies, medics, nurses, health workers, ambulances and emergency officers who are trained in dealing with such situations,” said Alaa AbouZeid, the team lead for emergencies and incident manager in the WHO Afghanistan office.
“The situation is still evolving, and we are pushing more resources as the situation needs,” he said in an interview with CNN’s Eleni Giokos, adding that “the main hospital responding to this for the critical cases is the Paktia hospital.”
“The resources are overstretched here, not just for this region, but we are expecting that the situation to evolve in the coming hours,” AbouZeid added.
3:19 p.m. ET, June 22, 2022
World leaders react to Afghanistan earthquake
From CNN staff
The United States offered its "heartfelt condolences" to those impacted by Wednesday's devastating earthquake in Afghanistan.
"We are deeply saddened by reports of an earthquake in eastern Afghanistan," the Twitter account for the US Embassy in Kabul posted Wednesday.
The US has no presence in Afghanistan following the full withdrawal of US troops and collapse of the Afghan government, and its embassy is currently operating out of Qatar. It does not have official relations with the Taliban government.
CNN has asked the US State Department whether it intends to provide aid in response to the natural disaster which has killed more than 900 people.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif extended his condolences and an offer of support in a tweet on Wednesday.
“Deeply grieved to learn about the earthquake in Afghanistan, resulting in the loss of innocent lives,” he wrote. “People in Pakistan share the grief and sorrow of their Afghan brethren. Relevant authorities are working to support Afghanistan in this time of need.”
India expressed “sympathy and condolences to the victims and their families,�� according to a tweet by the spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday.
The spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wang Wenbin, said he "grieves" over the deaths caused by the earthquake, according to a tweet from the Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan. "Afg is a friendly neighbor of China, and China is willing to provide emergency humanitarian assistance according to Afg needs," the embassy tweeted.
Turkey's foreign ministry said the Turkish Red Crescent, a humanitarian organization, "which has been operating in Afghanistan, has dispatched humanitarian aid for the earthquake victims in the region."
Pope Francis said he was praying “for those who have lost their lives and for their families."
“I hope aid can be sent there to help all the suffering of the dear people of Afghanistan,” the Pope said.
Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also called on international charities and organizations to help the families affected by the quake.
10:41 a.m. ET, June 22, 2022
Afghan government says it will pay families affected by earthquake
From CNN's Ehsan Popalzai and Aliza Kassim
Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister of State for Disaster Management Mawlawi Sharafuddin Muslim said Wednesday that the government would provide emergency relief to Afghans affected by the earthquake.
Speaking at a news conference, the deputy minister said that "the Islamic Emirate will pay 100,000 AFN ($1,116.19) for the families of those who were killed in the earthquake and 50,000 ($558.10) will be paid to families of those injured."
He added that to provide help to all, greater foreign assistance and "aid" would be needed.
A press statement by the diplomatic missions of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan also highlighted the need for foreign assistance.
“Islamic Republic of Afghanistan calls for the generous support of all countries international organizations individuals and foundations to provide and deliver urgent humanitarian aid,” according to the statement.
The Taliban-ruled country is currently in the throes of hunger and economic crises. After the Taliban seized power in August 2021, the United States and its allies froze about $7 billion of the country’s foreign reserves and cut off international funding.
9:27 a.m. ET, June 22, 2022
Afghanistan's deadliest earthquake in decades occurs during crippling hunger and economic crises
From CNN's Masoud Popalzai, Jessie Yeung, Ehsan Popalzai and Tara John
The humanitarian disaster caused by a magnitude 5.9 earthquake in eastern Afghanistan — the country's deadliest earthquake in decades — occurred at a challenging time for the Taliban-ruled country, which is currently in the throes of hunger and economic crises.
The quake comes as almost half the population – 20 million people – are experiencing acute hunger, according to a United Nations-backed report in May. It is a situation compounded by the Taliban seizing power in August 2021, which led the United States and its allies freezing about $7 billion of the country’s foreign reserves and cutting off international funding.
The situation has crippled an economy already heavily dependent on aid. Following the chaotic US 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.”
The Taliban held an emergency meetingon Wednesday to organize providing transportation to the injured and material aid to the victims and their families, Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said.
Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund called the meeting at the country’s Presidential Palace to instruct all relevant agencies to send emergency relief teams to the affected area, Mujahid said in a tweet.
“Measures were also taken to provide cash assistance and treatment,” Mujahid said, adding that agencies were “instructed to use air and land transport for the delivery of food, clothing, medicine and other necessities and for the transportation of the wounded.”
Najibullah Sadid, an Afghan water resources management expert, also said the earthquake had coincided with heavy monsoon rain in the region – making traditional houses, many made of mud and other natural materials, particularly vulnerable to damage.
“The timing of the earthquake (in the) dark of night … and the shallow depth of 10 kilometers of its epicenter led to higher casualties,” he added.
12:23 p.m. ET, June 22, 2022
At least 1,000 dead in Afghanistan earthquake, official says
From CNN's Ehsan Popalzai
At least 1,000 people have been confirmed dead and numbers continue to rise after an earthquake hit eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday.
"More than 1,000 people were killed and over 1,500 others injured in Tuesday night’s earthquake in Gayan and Barmal district of Paktika province alone," Mohammad Amin Hozaifa, head of the information and culture department of Paktika Province, told CNN in a phone call on Wednesday.
Hozaifa added that the death toll is likely to rise as search and rescue efforts continue.
In neighboring Khost province, 25 people were killed and several others were injured, and five people were killed in Nangarhar province, the disaster management authority said.
Photos from Paktika province, just south of Khost province, show houses turned to rubble with only a wall or two still standing amid the rubble, and broken roof beams.