Red Crescent societies join rescue efforts after 7.5 magnitude earthquake rocks Afghanistan

تم النشر: 27 أكتوبر 2015 11:17 CET

By Ika Koeck, IFRC

On 26 October,  the Hindu Kush mountain range straddling northern Afghanistan and Pakistan was rocked by a powerful 7.5 magnitude earthquake. The epicentre of the earthquake was in Jerm District in the Afghan province of Badakhshan, close to the border with Pakistan. Shockwaves were felt throughout the region.

The earthquake, which killed at least 77 people in Afghanistan and over 200 in neighbouring Pakistan, left over 2,000 injured. Areas affected in Afghanistan include Badakhshan, Takhar, Nangarhar and Kunar, while most of the damage in Pakistan is reported to be in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and Rawalpindi District in Punjab province. Shockwaves were felt as far as India and Tajikistan.

“The death toll is expected to keep rising,” said Nangyalay Yousufzai, the head of the Nangarhar branch of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, speaking from the area affected by the quake. As most of the affected provinces are located in remote areas where communication lines have been cut off, it could be days before the full extent of the damage from the earthquake is revealed. Following the quake, the Afghan Red Crescent deployed its volunteers and staff to the affected areas to provide emergency relief and conduct needs assessments.

In Pakistan, more than 1,800 people were injured according to government authorities. Many are believed to be trapped under collapsed houses.  

“What we’re hearing is that a lot of mud houses have collapsed, but huge buildings have been spared from the earthquake,” said Gorkhmaz Huseynov, the head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Pakistan. “The priority is to reach people who have lost their homes with emergency shelter materials and relief supplies”. The earthquake has also triggered landslides in some areas of Jammu and Kashmir, blocking roads and hampering relief efforts.  

Two Pakistan Red Crescent Society teams consisting of 20 Emergency Response team members have been deployed to aid in relief activities. The first team was stationed at the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, while the second team has been deployed to provide first aid and to transport the injured to nearby hospitals.

The IFRC delegations in Kabul and Islamabad are working in close coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to support the emergency response efforts of the Red Crescent National Societies in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Almost exactly ten years ago, a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the northern areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Pakistan administered Kashmir, killing 75,000 people and leaving 3.5 million people homeless.